Minnesota employers reported 146,513 job vacancies in the second quarter of 2019, the highest total on record and an indication that the state’s labor market remains tight, according to figures recently released by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The job vacancy survey figures were slightly ahead of the same period a year ago, when there were 142,282 job vacancies, which was the previous record. 

Statewide, there were 0.9 unemployed persons for each vacancy, meaning there are slightly more open positions than unemployed individuals in Minnesota.

While this ratio indicates that the labor market is still very tight, it is up from one year ago when there were only 0.6 unemployed persons for each vacancy, suggesting the labor market is showing signs of leveling out.

“Although the number of job vacancies continues to increase, the number of unemployed in Minnesota has also increased over the year,” said Steve Grove, DEED commissioner. “These figures continue to suggest strong hiring demand statewide, with more people now available to fill these open positions.”

According to the survey, the seven-county Twin Cities metro had 86,044 of the openings (58.7 percent), while rural Minnesota had 60,468 openings (41.3 percent). Health care and social assistance accounted for 19.2 percent of the openings statewide, followed by accommodation and food services (16.9 percent), retail trade (15.3 percent), manufacturing (7.6 percent) and educational services (5 percent).

The majority of employers statewide (62 percent) expect their employment levels to remain the same over the next six months. Twenty-seven percent expect to increase employment levels. The remaining 11 percent plan to decrease employment levels.

DEED’s hiring difficulties in manufacturing survey reports 62 percent of job vacancies in skilled production occupations posted by manufacturing firms in 2018 were difficult to fill. Of those that were hard to fill, 68 percent drew very few applicants, typically 10 or less.

Firms seeking to fill positions requiring long-term on-the-job training in industries that are low-tech, such as metal and food manufacturing, were more likely to cite difficulty filling positions.

Additionally, employers identified undesirable shifts, uncompetitive wages or compensation, inconvenient firm location, ineffective advertising, lack of work ethic in candidates and general disinterest in production work as other main reasons for difficulty in hiring for these positions.

The survey also showed that manufacturers understand there are factors under their control that can significantly reduce recruiting challenges. Providing a combination of internal and external training to new hires and current employees is increasingly recognized as a best practice for bridging talent shortages.

In 2018, manufacturing contributed more than $52 billion to the state’s GDP, the second largest contributing industry. Minnesota manufacturers also paid the second largest payroll in 2018 ($21.6 billion) and had an average wage that was 15 percent higher than the average for all other industries.

Each manufacturing job in Minnesota generates another 3.24 jobs in other segments of the economy like sales, marketing, shipping and professional services.

Forty-three percent of Minnesota’s Fortune 500 companies are manufacturers. DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development.

For more information about the agency and its services, visit the DEED Web site at www.mn.gov.deed.