MN Job Openings Climbed 47.6% in Fourth Quarter

A just-released state report shows that Minnesota employers reported 49,900 job openings during the fourth quarter of 2011, about 53 percent of which were for full-time, permanent positions.

Job vacancies during the fourth quarter of 2011 were up 47.6 percent compared to the same period in 2010, according to a report released Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The report found that Minnesota employers had 49,900 openings during the quarter, compared with 33,800 vacancies during the same period in 2010.

Agency spokesman Monte Hanson told Twin Cities Business on Tuesday that 29,000 job openings-or roughly 58 percent of the overall vacancies-were for full-time positions. And 92 percent of those full-time jobs were for permanent positions, while about 8 percent were for temporary or seasonal work.

That means roughly 53 percent of all job openings during the quarter were for full-time, permanent positions.

The greatest number of vacancies were in health care and social assistance, followed by retail trade, accommodation and food services, and manufacturing. Companies with at least 50 employees accounted for nearly 60 percent of overall job openings during the period. Those with between 10 and 49 workers accounted for 29 percent, while those with fewer than 10 represented about 12 percent.

Forty-three percent of the open jobs required some level of post-high school education, and the median wage for the state's vacant jobs was $10.89 per hour. The seven-county Twin Cities metro area had 29,600 vacancies during the fourth quarter, representing 59 percent of statewide openings.

Despite the seemingly large number of vacancies, the state had 3.2 unemployed people for each open job during the quarter. That's still better than 5.8 unemployed people for each vacancy during the fourth quarter of 2010.

In December, the state added 7,900 jobs as the unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 percent.

DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips said in a statement that the job vacancy report's findings “add to the mounting evidence of an improving job market in Minnesota,” adding that overall job vacancies in Minnesota have nearly doubled since 2009.

The job vacancy survey is conducted twice annually, in the second and fourth quarters. Fourth-quarter job openings were down 8.7 percent from the second quarter, but DEED said that decline can be attributed to seasonal factors; in fact, it was half the typical 17.5 percent drop between the second and fourth quarters.

Hanson said that DEED surveys more than 10,000 Minnesota companies across 20 industries to be used as the basis of its statewide projections.

Looking forward, employers appear to have a more optimistic outlook: About 11 percent of employers who responded to DEED's survey expect to add workers during the next six months-up from 7.8 percent from the survey conducted a year ago. Roughly 83.3 percent expect to maintain current levels, while about 6 percent expect to decrease headcounts.

Respondents to Twin Cities Business' most recent Quarterly Economic Indicator survey painted an even more optimistic picture: 37 percent of businesses that responded plan to add to their full-time employment levels this quarter-up from 29 percent that planned to increase headcount during the last quarter of 2011.

More Minnesota businesses also indicated that they plan to invest in infrastructure and raise prices this quarter.