ST. PAUL — Minnesota employers are struggling to fill job vacancies as the state recorded its highest total on record since the survey first started in 2001.

The total number of job vacancies during the spring of 2019 is 146,513 — slightly more than the 142,282 vacancies from this same period a year ago, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reported Monday.

“Although the number of job vacancies continues to increase, the number of unemployed in Minnesota has also increased over the year,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove in a prepared statement. “These figures continue to suggest strong hiring demand statewide, with more people now available to fill these open positions.”

The unemployment rate in Minnesota is currently 3.3%, below the national rate of 3.7% recorded in August. With the recent release in the number of job vacancies, there are now 10 open jobs for every nine unemployed Minnesotans.

“Expansion in job growth has contributed to a situation where the labor market is so tight … that employers are having a hard time filling all the vacancies,” said Oriane Casale, assistant director of the labor market information office for DEED. “That in some ways may be constraining growth right now economically.”

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In the Twin Cities metro, there were 86,044 openings, which makes up 58.7% of the total amount of vacancies in the state, according to the survey, which covers the months of April, May and June.

Jobs most in demand

  • Health care and social assistance jobs accounted for 19.2% of the openings statewide.
  • Accommodation and food services jobs, 16.9%.
  • Retail trade jobs, 15.3%.
  • Manufacturing jobs, 7.6%.
  • Educational services jobs, 5%.

Manufacturing's unique challenges

A DEED survey explained how difficult it has become to fill skilled production jobs in Minnesota, said Alessia Leibert, who leads the hiring difficulties survey. The need for long-term training and a general disinterest by jobseekers in manufacturing were among the reasons for this difficulty.

The sector with the most difficulty was non-STEM manufacturing of food and metal, the report said.

Employers are taking steps to curb this difficulty with investment in internal training, advertising and collaborating with schools to recruit workers with programs such as college tuition reimbursement, Leibert said.