by Rachel Vilsack

More than 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard ‘s 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division, known as “Red Bulls,” returned home to Minnesota this month from Kuwait. While many of us know these men and women personally as members of our family, friends and neighbors, others of us know them, or will become newly acquainted with them, as our co-workers, local business owners and employees. 


The Minnesota men and women serving in the U.S. military overseas will be returning to a labor market far different than one year ago. Minnesota’s job market continues to recover from the Great Recession: online job openings have increased to some of their highest levels, and we’ve added half of the jobs lost since the bottom of the economic downturn in September 2009 as opportunities have expanded in many of the state’s key industries.


Meet Your Labor Market

Current economic conditions are important to many of Minnesota’s newest veterans. A survey of the Red Bulls deployed in Kuwait since May 2011 conducted by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) determined that approximately18 percent were unemployed and looking for work prior to their deployment. These unemployed Servicemembers, as well as several hundred more who could return to jobs held prior to deployment, will enter the regional job market in search of new opportunities, according survey results.


Servicemembers intending to seek new jobs upon their return to Minnesota are interested in a variety of occupations in areas such as management and business, construction, health care, and maintenance, according to the DEED survey. Additional areas of interest included security and protective service occupations. These veterans might rely on their new (or expanded) military skill set and interests to qualify for job openings.


Regional economic trends are also essential for those veterans who want to start a new business, or for those who will become full-time students and want to understand where the best job opportunities are in Minnesota.


Welcome home Red Bulls – and thanks – from all of us at iSpeak!


Note: The survey cited in this report was conducted by Thu-Mai Ho-Kim from the Economic Analysis Unit of the Communications, Analysis and Research Division at DEED, in collaboration with the Minnesota National Guard.