Minnesota job market improved drastically last year


In another indication the economy continues to recover, new data shows that Minnesota's job market at the end of 2011 was a helluva lot stronger than it was a year prior.

According to the Department of Employment and Economic Development, job vacancies in the state climbed 47.6 percent during the fourth quarter compared to 2010. There were 3.2 job seekers for every vacancy, down from 5.8 one year earlier.

The improving job market, combined with an unemployment rate that has fallen to 5.7 percent from a height of 8.5 percent in May 2009, serves as strong evidence that the worst of this recession may be in the past.

DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips said in a press release that "while the labor market is still tight for workers in certain sectors, overall openings statewide have nearly doubled since 2009."

The health care and social assistance sectors had the most vacancies at the end of last year, followed by retail trade, food services, and manufacturing. 42 percent of the openings were for part-time employment, and 13 percent were for temporary or seasonal work.

As you'd expect, it's much easier to find a job in the Twin Cities than it is outstate, as 59 percent of all vacancies were in the seven-county metro area. It also helps to have a college degree -- 43 percent of available jobs required one.

The median wage for all job vacancies was $10.89 an hour.

As MPR notes, it's important to keep in mind that the DEED survey only looks at the demand for workers, not supply. For instance, while there are many manufacturing jobs available, employers report that many of those applying for them aren't qualified to do the work.

In any event, the increasing job opening numbers suggest Minnesota's falling unemployment rate isn't just a product of discouraged workers giving up the job search -- there actually are more jobs available now than during the height of the recession, and that's good news.

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