MN Mftg. Cos. Struggle to Fill Jobs; High Demand for IT

Minnesota's manufacturers are having a difficult time finding qualified workers to fill open positions; meanwhile, there has been an uptick in demand for IT workers in Minnesota and across the country, according to several recent reports.

With Minnesota's unemployment rate hovering around 7 percent, recent reports indicate that the state's manufacturers are actually struggling to find qualified employees, while demand has picked up for tech-savvy job candidates.

About half of Minnesota's manufacturers that responded to a recent survey by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) indicated that they haven't filled positions because they lack qualified job candidates.

Forty-five percent of respondents described the shortage of skilled workers as a “moderate” or “serious” problem, and manufacturers anticipate that the issue will become more severe during the next three years.

The DEED report found that the most significant shortages are in skilled production (58 percent) and scientists and engineers (40 percent). Manufacturers in southwestern and northwestern Minnesota reported the highest worker shortages. Shortages were less significant in the areas of low-skilled production, management and administration, and customer service.

“State manufacturers have openings, but Minnesotans who are looking for work often don't have the right skills to fill them,” DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips said in a statement.

The DEED survey was conducted in the spring and included data from 511 respondents. Download the full report here.

Manufacturing has been one of the strongest industries for job growth in Minnesota this year, adding 4,000 jobs year-over-year in September. (Although, like many other industries, the state's manufacturing employers actually shed jobs last month.)

In other employment news, the Star Tribune recently reported that the state has seen a spike in demand for IT jobs.

That mirrors a national trend: While the country's employment rate remains above 9 percent, the jobless rate is less than 2.5 percent for computer programmers, data administrators, and other IT specialists.

Twin Cities Business' most recent Quarterly Economic Indicator report, which is based on responses from 505 Minnesota business representatives surveyed in late September, echoed some of the other reports' findings. For example, 35 percent of respondents from the state's manufacturing industry said they plan to ramp up hiring in the coming quarter, and among all respondents, finding qualified employees was described as one of the biggest business challenges.

Meanwhile, more of the state's businesses plan to hire additional employees (29 percent) than to decrease headcount (8 percent). And 40 percent of all respondents expect their revenues to increase in the coming quarter, while only 15 percent anticipate revenue declines.

About 39 percent of Twin Cities Business' Quarterly Economic Indicator survey respondents from the IT, software, and telecom sector said they plan to hire during the next three months.