Minnesota’s birthrate has held up relatively well

Last week, I wrote about how Minnesota is one of 13 states which still haven’t regained their pre-COVID-19 employment numbers. This is in the context of ongoing concerns about a shortage of labor in Minnesota. A recent report from labor market analytics firm Lightcast titled “Minnesota’s Vanishing Workforce” found, as Axios helpfully summarized, that:

The state needs another 168,000 people in the labor force to fully recover from the massive shakeup caused by the pandemic…

State of play: The driving force behind the looming shortage is the retirement of baby boomers. All of them will be 65 or older by 2030.

Boomers were 46% of Minnesota’s workforce in 2001, according to the report. That number fell to 17% in 2022, as more than 200,000 left the workforce.

None of this will be news to those who have been following our work. My 2019 report “Minnesota’s Workforce to 2050” noted that “the slowing growth rate of the population and the declining participation rate — will have the effect of slowing the growth in Minnesota’s workforce.”

Axios notes that “their departures won’t be completely backfilled due to declining birth rates and net out-migration”:

A state needs a birth rate of 2.1 per woman to “replace” its population, according to the report. Minnesota’s birth rate has been falling since 2009, hitting 1.75 in 2021.

As I’ve noted before, the appropriate question to ask is often not “Why is Minnesota doing badly?” but “Why is Minnesota doing worse than other states?” In fact, Minnesota’s birthrate is holding up fairly well, relatively speaking. In 2001, our state’s birthrate ranked 24th in the United States: In 2022, our birthrate ranked 21st. Yes, the birthrate had declined from 13.6 per 1,000 to 11.3, but this was a general phenomenon and the problem isn’t particularly acute in Minnesota.