North Dakota Taps MN to Fill Job Openings

Officials from North Dakota are looking for Minnesotans to help fill the state's 17,000 job openings.

Unemployed Minnesotans could be a hop, skip, and a jump away from a job if they're willing to cross the border into North Dakota.

Officials from North Dakota held two events in Minnesota in mid-May in an effort to attract businesses and employees to the state and help fill its 17,000 job openings.

On May 12, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple and his wife hosted a business reception and dinner in Minneapolis for 150 guests. At the event, the governor and other officials spoke about the advantages of investing and doing business in North Dakota.

The following day, about 400 people attended a career fair in Minneapolis that featured 35 North Dakota employers and community leaders who represented nearly 17,000 jobs currently available in the state.

Exhibitors gave the career fair high marks. According to Paul Lucy-director of North Dakota's economic development and finance division-a number of employers at the career fair indicated that they walked away with two dozen or more good prospects.

Lucy said that the 17,000 open jobs are spread across many industries, but there is a large need for jobs in the oil industry, particularity in western North Dakota.

The biotech, health care, manufacturing, and IT industries are other sectors that have employment shortages, Lucy said.

North Dakota's unemployment rate is low compared to other states-it was just 3.3 percent in April, compared to Minnesota's 6.5 percent rate and the national rate of 9 percent-so there are a lot of employment opportunities within the state.

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development spokesman Monte Hanson said that North Dakota's interest in the Minnesota work force is somewhat of a compliment and is not a huge concern for Minnesota. Hanson said that the state is more concerned about Minnesota-based companies moving out of state or expanding outside Minnesota.

“We can see why they want to come here to recruit,” Hanson told Twin Cities Business on Thursday. “Minnesota workers are known for having a great work ethic and being highly educated.”

Hanson added that Minnesota ranks second in the nation for high school graduates with 91.5 percent of adults in that state having a diploma. He also said that Minnesotans who make the move to North Dakota will likely only be there temporarily and will return to Minnesota once jobs become available because Minnesota-and the Twin Cities specifically-has more diverse job opportunities and is an appealing place to live.

According to Lucy, Minnesota is a good place to recruit from because many North Dakota college graduates relocate to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area after graduation; they still have connections to North Dakota and may be interested in moving back home.

Lucy also said that there are a lot of similarities between Minnesota and North Dakota in terms of culture and environment, which makes a move easier.

“It's not such a foreign idea to come to North Dakota to go to work if you are living in Minnesota,” Lucy said, adding that the similarities in recreational activities in both states also make the transition more seamless.

In marketing North Dakota, officials are touting its low tax rates and budget surplus. The governor made cuts to personal, corporate, and property tax rates in the most recent legislative session.

This isn't the first time that North Dakota has held events to attract prospective out-of-state employees, and it likely won't be the last.

In the past, North Dakota has hosted career fairs in both Denver (2007 and 2008) and St. Paul (2008).

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