by Cameron Macht

After suffering through severe job declines during the recession, job growth has slowly returned to the state of Minnesota. From the first quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011, Minnesota gained almost 33,000 net new jobs, a 1.3 percent increase.


Thankfully, job growth was spread across the state, with every region seeing employment increases over the last year.


  • Central Minnesota was once again the fastest growing region in the state—gaining about 4,300 net new jobs, a 1.8 percent rise.
  • The Twin Cities metro area saw the second-fastest growth rate at 1.1 percent, but easily the largest employment change by adding almost 17,000 net new jobs from 2010 to 2011.
  • Southwest Minnesota was the third fastest growing region, increasing about 0.9 percent in the last year, a net gain of about 1,450 jobs.
  • Southeast Minnesota welcomed nearly 1,600 net new jobs, a 0.7 percent increase.
  • Northeast Minnesota added jobs at the same rate (0.7%), adding about 950 jobs.
  • Northwest Minnesota was the slowest growing region, but still gained about 750 jobs for a 0.4 percent increase.


All told, two-thirds of the 87 counties in the state saw an employment increase.


Job Growth Rate Varies Widely by County Statewide

Within each region, different counties saw different rates and amounts of job growth. For example, in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, Hennepin County added the largest number of jobs (+11,767 jobs) in the last year. In comparison, Carver County saw the fastest growth (+3.2%). However, all seven counties saw employment increases from the first quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011.


Surprisingly, the fastest growing counties were spread across the state. For example:


  • Rock County—which directly borders the Sioux Falls, South Dakota metro area in the southwestern corner of the state—enjoyed a 10 percent increase in jobs in the last year.
  • Lake of the Woods County—which shares a border with Canada and contains the Northwest Angle, the northernmost point in the lower 48 states—climbed 6.5 percent.
  • Stevens County—which is one county away from the state’s western border—jumped 5.5 percent.
  • Lake County—which is located in Northeast Minnesota’s Arrowhead region—saw a 5.2 percent rise in employment.


A look at the thousands of job postings found on, the state’s online job posting database, shows that many counties have increased their hiring activity over the last year. There are now more than 46,000 jobs posted across the state. That means that no matter where you look, you are likely to find some local hiring activity and job growth.


Cameron Macht is a labor market analyst for the Central and Southwest Minnesota region at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.