What To Expect When There Are More Jobs in MN Than People Looking For Work

Posted by Paul Beard on 10/17/19 3:07 PM
Paul Beard
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A new report by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) reveals that our state is currently undergoing a “severe work shortage.”  In fact, as of this morning, our statewide unemployment rate has just fallen another tenth of a percentage point, down to 3.2%.

As of the 2nd quarter of this year, there were 146,000 open jobs available – more than any other time in Minnesota’s history.  In fact, according to DEED’s most recent Job Vacancy Survey, there are nearly twice as many job openings than Minnesotans seeking work.

What does this all mean? How can Minnesota’s employers best navigate the current climate – and how job seekers take advantage of it? I visited our local Fox 9 news station to address those questions.

To put the situation in context, it helps to look at Minnesota’s employment trends over the past decade.  In In 2009, at the peak of the great recession, the unemployment gap was painfully wide with 250,000 unemployed Minnesotans competing for 40,000 available positions. Since then, Minnesota has been successfully closing that gap, with job openings increasing and unemployment falling.

But by 2016, as those trends continued, we started to see the first signs of a reversal in the gap, with more jobs available than workers to fill them. While that may look like fantastic news, especially from a job seeker perspective, the truth is more complicated. 

When Minnesota employers are unable to fill key positions, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay productive over time.  As the gap widens, the pressure on employers continues to build. And today, Minnesota companies are truly struggling to find and keep talent. 

If you’re a hiring manager, here’s my advice:  move quickly.

Here’s what “quickly” means.  If, in the past, you have filled senior positions within 2-3 months of initial job posting, you will need to cut that time by one half or even two thirds.  If you drag your feet after interviewing top candidates, you’ll likely discover that your first choice candidate has already accepted an offer from someone else before you even got the offer letter written. 

Of course, if you’re the person looking for the job, my advice is different: be patient. Take your time and choose the job, employer, and work culture that will make you happiest.

Today’s climate gives you virtually unlimited options and unprecedented power during your job hunt. For exempt-level positions, which is our focus at SkyWater Search Partners, this is especially true in the IT, Accounting and Finance, or Engineering and Operations fields.  Candidates who possess a technical skill set or a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math) degree are in particularly high demand. 

But for every candidate – no matter how in-demand your skills may be – I also have a few words of caution: if at all possible, stay employed during your job search.

If you’re unemployed, do not despair.  As already discussed, this market is strongly in your favor.  But please don’t interpret your job prospects as permission to stomp out of your current job because another one is right around the corner.  Unemployment places you in a far more vulnerable spot, putting you under paycheck pressure – and giving employers a stronger negotiating position when discussing compensation and benefits.

Above all, here is the advice I share with everyone, whether you’re the hiring manager or the job seeker:  trust your gut.  If it doesn’t feel right, pass. The right fit will come along. 


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