Job vacancies reach record high in Minnesota, at 214,000 openings

Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development says job openings in the state climbed to a record high in the fourth quarter of 2021, surpassing 214,000 total openings. This comes as Minnesota employers continue to add jobs, according to figures released Tuesday by DEED.

The number of fourth quarter 2021 vacancies was up 68% compared to fourth quarter 2020, and up 56% compared to the previous fourth quarter peak hit in 2018, prior to the pandemic. While vacancies continue to increase, DEED says the number of unemployed workers continued to decrease. Although Minnesota’s labor force participation rate remains below its pre-pandemic level, it is much higher than the national average of 62.2% in April 2022.

Minnesota’s economy has exhibited steady growth and unemployment rates are now at historic lows.

The breakdown from the Department of Employment and Economic Development is as follows:

After employers reported 205,000 vacancies in second quarter 2021, demand for workers continued to increase as employers struggle with tight labor market conditions and declining numbers of unemployed and available workers. With fewer than 93,000 unemployed workers statewide in fourth quarter 2021, there were just 0.4 unemployed persons for each vacancy, meaning there were more than twice as many open positions as unemployed individuals in Minnesota. This is the lowest ratio on record and well down from one year ago when there were 1.1 unemployed persons for each vacancy.

The seven-county Twin Cities metro had nearly 127,000 job vacancies (59% of the statewide total), while Greater Minnesota had just over 87,000 vacancies. Job vacancies increased slightly faster (+69%) in Greater Minnesota than in the Twin Cities (+67.6%) over the year, but with both seeing smaller numbers of unemployed workers, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota each had less than 0.5 job seekers per vacancy.

Statewide, Health Care & Social Assistance had 24% of all job vacancies with 52,340 openings, an increase of nearly 20,500 vacancies over the year, and the sector saw wage offers rise 7.3% from fourth quarter 2021. The 52,340 open positions mean that for every 100 filled jobs, there were 10.8 vacancies in the health care industry as of fourth quarter 2021, as compared to 8.3 in second quarter 2021.

With 39,630 vacancies, Retail Trade accounted for nearly 19% of total openings and saw median wage offers up nearly 12% compared to the same quarter in 2020 as employers raised offers to attract applicants. Accommodation & Food Services, accounting for 15% of vacancies, had slightly fewer openings compared to the record levels of vacancies reached in summer 2021, but saw wage offers up 22% over the year. After 12 industries set new records for vacancy levels in second quarter 2021, five of the 20 industries in the state again set new vacancy records in fourth quarter 2021.

At the occupation level, demand was highest for Food Preparation & Serving workers, with almost 33,000 vacancies, although slightly down from second quarter 2021. Sales & Related occupations, on the other hand, reached another peak at 26,800 vacancies, up just a few hundred from second quarter 2021. Combined, those two occupational groups accounted for 28% of all openings in the state.

Healthcare occupations also hit new records. Demand for Healthcare Support workers – including Home Health & Personal Care Aides, Nursing Assistants and Medical Assistants – hit a record with more than 18,000 vacancies. Healthcare Practitioners & Technical occupations, including Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses and Medical & Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians, also set another record with almost 20,000 vacancies.

All occupational groups except Protective Services, which was down 15%, saw increases over the year. Other occupational groups that saw notable increases in vacancies over the year include Farming, Fishing & Forestry, Personal Care & Service, and Business & Financial Operations occupations, which all increased more than 225% over the year. Vacancies in Food Prep & Serving, Architecture & Engineering, Life, Physical & Social Science and Legal occupations all more than doubled.

The median wage offer easily hit a series high at $18.09, reflecting increases in both lower paying and higher paying occupations and a premium for workers with experience. The median wage offer was up 9% compared to a 6.7% increase in the Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation.