by Rachel Vilsack

A historic labor market event happened in Minnesota this July: our labor force exceeded three million people for the first time ever! With more people employed—and, yes, many people still unemployed, we continue to see growth in the number of jobs and opportunities across Minnesota. In fact, the private (that is, non-government) sector added 40,000 jobs over the past year alone.


Among industries, some of the top performers over the past year have been:


  • Leisure and hospitality, including accommodation and food services
  • Education and health services, including education (private sector), nursing homes and residential care facilities, and social assistance
  • Professional and business services, including administrative and support services
  • Manufacturing, including machinery manufacturing and fabricated metal products manufacturing


Only three private sectors have witnessed some over-the-year job loss:


  • Construction, down by 2,700 jobs
  • Other services, down by 1,300 jobs
  • Information, down by 900 jobs


In July 2011, the unemployment rate in Minnesota increased to 7.2 percent due, in part, to the state government shutdown. Monthly unemployment rates are calculated from data collected from a national survey of households. In July, the survey occurred during the state shutdown, leading to higher numbers of unemployed. By survey definitions, laid-off workers waiting to be recalled are considered unemployed. It’s a unique event, and the unemployment rate should decline now that the shutdown has ended.


Keep in mind that unemployment rates count only the people who are available and actively seeking work. It’s not uncommon to see unemployment rates fluctuate as labor market conditions improve because people who’ve not been included in the statistics are now engaged in job search activities. Unemployment rates also don’t capture the underemployed (those who work in jobs that don’t utilize their full experience, education, or skill levels).


And remember: while data and statistics can help us understand larger economic trends, they are not reflective of every individual’s experience. It’s okay if your labor market experience doesn’t match the statistics presented here.


Help for the Job Seeker

If you’re a job seeker looking for the best opportunities, you’re in luck. Very soon we will be releasing statistics where you can see which jobs have had the most openings so far in 2011 and occupations in demand across Minnesota.


You can also check out the regional career websites on ISEEK for information on local employers, job listings, and regional in demand jobs. There is a regional website just for you:



Rachel Vilsack ( is the Coordinator of Special Projects for Minnesota’s Labor Market Information Office at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.