Productivity is a key
component of economic development, and labor productivity, in particular,
is closely tied to the quality of the labor force and educational institutions.
Research says so, and Minnesota firms agree, according to a mid-summer
workforce survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
Most Minnesota businesses concurred that labor quality is a top consideration
in deciding where to locate and expand. Respondents also indicated that
Minnesota workers perform better than workers in other locations.
A majority of the more than 600 Minnesota businesses responding to the
survey indicated good to excellent availability of both high-skilled and
low-skilled workers. A question about worker quality revealed that the
quality of high-skilled workers was significantly more favorable than
the abilities of low-skilled workers with no more than a high school diploma.
This is significant, given that 74 percent of responding establishments
agreed that labor quality is a top consideration in making location and
expansion decisions, and the fact that low-skilled workers still constitute
close to half the workforce, said Toby Madden, regional economist,
at the Minneapolis Fed.
Respondents revealed an overall confidence in the effectiveness of Minnesota
educational institutions in providing their companies with qualified workers.
More than half of the respondents agreed that government should be involved
with early childhood education, ensuring that children are ready to learn
by the time they start kindergarten. Meanwhile, 43 percent indicated that
funding for such programs specifically targeted to at-risk children should
be increased, while only 15 percent thought it should be reduced.
When asked about the outlook for employment and wages, nearly 85 percent
said they expect steadiness or increases in employment for the remainder
of the year. About half said they anticipate a 2 percent to 3 percent
overall increase in wages and salaries over the same period.
See complete survey results.