Laboring over job vacancies

Minnesota State Roundup

Published November 1, 2007  | November 2007 issue

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development releases a twice-annual survey of unfilled jobs statewide.

In its most recent job report looking at vacancies in the second quarter of 2007, unfilled jobs numbered about 60,000, up slightly compared with six months ago, but down more than 6 percent from a year ago. The resulting vacancy rate of 2.3 percent—or 2.3 unfilled jobs for every 100 filled—was a small decline from the 2.5 percent rate during the same period a year ago.

The number and rate of job vacancies have been fairly steady since the second quarter of 2002, but both have seen a big drop from pre-2001 recession levels. In the fourth quarter of 2000, both the number (140,000) and rate (4.9 percent) of unfilled jobs were more than twice their current levels.

Those numbers hide much steeper changes—both up and down—among various sectors, seemingly reflective of opposing growth trends. For example, vacancies in agriculture and mining were up 39 percent and 56 percent, respectively, over the second quarter of 2006, most likely because both sectors are seeing strong demand for their output. In contrast, the number of unfilled jobs in real estate and construction dropped 47 and 15 percent, probably thanks to slower housing activity.

Ronald A. Wirtz