The COVID-19 pandemic sent the U.S. unemployment rate up to a post Great Depression high of 14.7% in April 2020. Though the jobless rate has since fallen back below 4%, the U.S. job market is far from pre-pandemic norms in at least one other key measure – labor supply.
The U.S. is currently grappling with a massive labor shortage. Due largely to the pandemic, millions of workers have decided to retire, over 1 million mothers of school-age children have left the workforce, and there are about 2 million fewer working-age immigrants in the country. Currently, the labor force participation rate – the share of Americans 16 and older either working or looking for work – stands at 61.9%, a low not seen in the pre-pandemic United States since 1977.
As a result, employers nationwide are struggling to fill open positions. As of the end of November 2021, the most recent month of available data, there were 10.6 million open jobs in the United States, a 56% increase from one year ago.
In Minnesota, an estimated 189,000 jobs remain unfilled, up 64.3% from the same period last year and equal to 6.1% of all jobs in the state. For context, 6.6% of jobs nationwide are unfilled.
The national labor shortage is exacerbating supply chain issues and creating an existential challenge for many small businesses. Even major companies have been forced to reduce their hours of operation. Chain restaurants, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Chipotle, as well as major retailers like Macy’s, have cut hours of operations in some or all of their locations.
All data in this story is from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job openings are the number of positions – full-time, part-time, seasonal, short-term, or permanent – open on the last business day of November 2021.
|Rank||State||Open jobs as share of all jobs (%)||Total job openings, Nov. 2021||Nov. 2021 unemployment rate (%)|