Minnesota gained more jobs in last six months than any half-year since Reagan's heyday

Minnesota companies are hiring at an impressive clip, though we'd imagine most of the newly employed aren't quite as attractive as this set.
Minnesota companies are hiring at an impressive clip, though we'd imagine most of the newly employed aren't quite as attractive as this set.

What a difference a state makes.

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While Wisconsinites have been enduring arguably the worst job market in the country, Minnesota is adding jobs at a clip faster than any seen since Walter Mondale was challenging Ronald Reagan for the presidency.

From MPR:

Minnesota's economy added 14,500 jobs last month, and January's tally was revised upward by another 1,400 jobs.

That means the state is just 1,000 jobs shy of the previous peak in February of 2008, early in the great recession. The state's unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent in February. The U.S. jobless rate last month was 7.7 percent...

"We seem to have picked up a head of steam here," [labor market analyst Steve] Hine said. "We're even able to weather the headwinds that our Congress is throwing at us."

All 11 industrial sectors showed healthy job gains over the past year, said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben.

"Nine of those sectors are outpacing the growth rate nationally," she said.

Of course, adding jobs is one thing -- adding good jobs is another. And as Minnesota's job market picked up steam last fall, data indicated that the jobs being created didn't pay as well as jobs available before the Great Recession came along and kicked us all in the ass.

From a Star Tribune analysis published last September 8:

Almost 36 percent of vacancies today pay a median wage of $10 an hour or less, according to a Star Tribune analysis of state data. Meanwhile, the portion of jobs that pay $10 to $25 an hour has dropped sharply, from nearly two-thirds of openings a decade ago to 43 percent now.

The labor data shows that while the state's economy has resumed growing, recovering more than half the jobs it lost to the recession, it is also changing in ways that work against the traditional middle class...

The five jobs with the most openings in Minnesota are retail sales, combined food prep and serving, heavy and tractor-trailer truck driving, nursing assistants, and waiters and waitresses.

Those five categories account for 11,434 openings in the state, and only truck drivers fall squarely in the middle-income bracket, earning a median wage of $17 per hour. Retail and food service positions pay a median between $7 per hour and $8 per hour, pay that puts workers below or close to poverty level, depending on the size of their household.

Still, compared to the plight our neighbors to the east are suffering through, worrying about the quality of the new jobs being created is a good problem to have.

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