fbpx

Latest Posts

Home

Facebook

Twitter

Search
About

Should we worry about a ‘labor shortage’ or rising unemployment in Minnesota?

Minn Post has an article today titled ‘In a tight labor market, Greater Minnesota businesses think creatively about how to hang on to workers‘. Indeed, I’ve written about the ‘labor shortage’ in our state before. But, recently, I’ve written about how Minnesota is above average for population growth, below average for employment growth, and top for unemployment growth.

What’s the story? Do we have a ‘tight’ labor market with a shortage of workers, or do we have rising numbers of unemployed? Data from Minnesota’s Department for Employment and Economic Development allows us to answer that question.

The Labor Force includes those Minnesotans over 16 who are either employed or unemployed and looking for work. The Labor Force Participation Rate is this number as a share of the population over 16. Using DEED’s numbers for these, we can derive the population aged over 16.

In July, Minnesota’s population of over 16s stood at 4,438,616. That breaks down as 3,002,476 working, 104,555 unemployed, and 1,331,585 out of the labor force entirely, neither employed nor looking for work. Table 1 shows these numbers over the last year.

Table 1: Minnesota’s working age population by employment status

Source: Department of Employment and Economic Development 

How does this compare to the United States generally? DEED’s data shows that, in July, the US population of over 16s stood at 259,287,302. That breaks down as 157,288,000 working, 6,063,000 unemployed, and 95,936,302 out of the labor force entirely, neither employed nor looking for work. Table 2 shows these numbers over the last year.

Table 2: United States’ working age population by employment status

Source: Department of Employment and Economic Development 

These tables allow us to compare Minnesota’s performance to that of the US generally over the last year. Our population has grown faster – 0.9% compared to 0.5%. But the number of those employed has risen more slowly – 0.6% compared to 1.1%. The number of unemployed has risen in Minnesota by a staggering 22.1% while it has fallen by 2.7% nationally. And the number of Minnesotans not in the labor force at all has increased by 0.3% while, for the US as a whole, it has fallen by 0.3%.

In short, over the last year Minnesota has added more people but fewer jobs that the nation as a whole. The number of Minnesotans not working – either unemployed or out of the labor force entirely – has risen, while it has fallen nationally. Perhaps it is time to refocus our attention away from the ‘labor shortage’ and towards our growing unemployment problem.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment. 

Comments

Subscribe

Categories

Upcoming Events

  • Morning in Minnesota Breakfast: St. Cloud

    Location: Coyote Moon Grille 480 55th Ave SE, St. Cloud, MN 56304

    Please join Center of the American Experiment on Wednesday, October 16that Coyote Moon Grille for breakfast with Center policy fellow and energy expert, Isaac Orr. Following his discussion of his new report, “Doubling Down on Failure,” Isaac will be joined by a panel of local leaders for a conversation about renewable energy standards in Minnesota. Wednesday, October 16, 2019 Coyote Moon Grille, 480 55th Ave SE, St. Cloud, MN 56304 7:30 AM Breakfast & Check-in 8:00 AM Presentation 9:00 AM Conclude Free, RSVP Here

    Register Now
  • Morning in Minnesota Breakfast: Mankato

    Location: Mankato Golf Club, 100 August Drive, Mankato, MN 56002

    Please join Center of the American Experiment on Thursday, October 17that the Mankato Golf Club for breakfast with Center economist, John Phelan, as he discusses Minnesota’s economic future. Thursday, October 17, 2019 Mankato Golf Club 100 August Drive, Mankato, MN 56002 7:30 AM Breakfast & Check-in 8:00 AM Presentation 9:00 AM Conclude Free, RSVP Here

    Register Now
  • Morning in Minnesota Breakfast: Alexandria

    Location: Alexandria Golf Club 2300 North Nokomis Northeast Alexandria, MN 56308

    Please join Center of the American Experiment on Wednesday, September 25th at the Alexandria Golf Club for breakfast with Center policy fellow and education expert, Catrin Wigfall, as she explains the Center’s “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree” project. Following her presentation on workforce development issues, Catrin will be joined by a panel of local leaders to discuss how Alexandria can better attract and retain young talent. Wednesday, September 25, 2019 Alexandria Golf Club 2300 North Nokomis NE, Alexandria, MN 56308 8:00 AM Breakfast & Check-in 8:30 AM Presentation 9:30 AM Conclude Free, RSVP Here

    Register Now