by Dave Senf

Employment in Minnesota is projected to increase by 22,500 new jobs, a 0.8 percent growth rate, between the third quarters of 2011 and 2012. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Job openings due to new job creation, while an important component of the job market, are only a small slice of all job openings available to job seekers.

Employers also need to fill openings left vacant as people retire or otherwise leave an occupation. And this is significant: an estimated 61,000 additional job openings will be generated over the next 12 months because people leave occupations. Between new growth and the need to replace workers leaving their occupations, Minnesota will see a total of 87,000 job openings in 2012 across all different types of occupations.

Uneven Growth
Even with a slower overall rate of job growth in 2012, some occupations with grow, while others will shrink. A key factor is whether an occupation is concentrated in an expanding or shrinking industry. For example, postal service mail carrier and sorter jobs will be cut next year as the postal service shrinks. Yet, other occupations, like personal and home care aides and registered nurses, will see an increase in jobs since these occupations are concentrated in the expanding health care and social assistance sector.

New job gains are expected to be strongest for:

Higher Turnover Equals More Jobs
Most job openings are created by employee turnover, which occurs for a variety of reasons:

  • A computer software engineer working at Software Company XYZ takes a job at Software Company ABC for a bigger paycheck.
  • A carpenter switches careers, becoming a middle school industrial arts teacher.
  • A 20-something counter attendant leaves a job at a fast- food restaurant for an accounting position after completing a business degree.

Replacement openings occur as workers leave occupations, not just switch employers. Replacement openings are created when workers retire, return to school, or quit a job for health reasons or to assume household responsibilities.

With an estimated 61,000 replacement job openings over the next 12 months, almost all occupations will have some job openings, including those expected to decline over the year. For example, the number of workers employed as telemarketers in Minnesota is expected to shrink by 180 between the third quarters of 2010 and 2011. But 140 net replacement telemarketer openings are anticipated in 2012.

The table below lists the top 25 occupations in Minnesota projected to have the most job openings. It’s important to keep in mind that these occupations tend to be those that already employ a large number of workers and have high turnover rates.

Occupations with the Most Projected Openings
Third Quarter 2011 to Third Quarter 2012
Total Job Openings
Cashiers 3,904
Waiters & Waitresses 3,027
Combined Food Preparation & Serving Workers 2,582
Retail Salespersons 2,390
Customer Service Representatives 1,804
Registered Nurses 1,722
Personal & Home Care Aides 1,442
Home Health Aides 1,355
Business Operations Specialists, All Other 1,341
Stock Clerks & Order Fillers 1,217
Office Clerks, General 1,209
Laborers & Freight, Stock & Material Movers, Hand 1,168
Education, Training, & Library Workers, All Other 916
Truck Drivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer 852
Counter Attendants, Cafeteria and Food Concession 834
Licensed Practical & Licensed Vocational Nurses 815
General & Operations Managers 808
Team Assemblers 799
Receptionists & Information Clerks 744
Bartenders 741
Janitors & Cleaners 714
Sales Representatives, Wholesale &Manufacturing 712
Cooks, Restaurant 696
Host & Hostess, Restaurant, Lounge & Coffee Shop 681
Dishwashers 665


Interested in learning more about growing industries in Minnesota? Check out this previous post on Minnesota’s industry job outlook in 2012.

Dave Senf ( is a labor market analyst at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.