In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, with unemployment claims in Minnesota hovering at around 20% of the labor force, it might seem strange to talk about a workforce shortage.
But just last winter (that seems so long ago, doesn’t it?) that’s exactly what we were talking about. As a follow-up to last year’s four-part research series on Greater Minnesota’s workforce shortage, we also produced an explainer video that reviews the issues and many of the ways state and local government, businesses and schools have been working to solve the problem. Because it was a big problem. Up until two months ago, Greater Minnesota had high numbers of vacant jobs, many of them for skilled workers. In response, employers were raising wages to attract workers, and the percentage offering health insurance and other benefits was improving, too. They were also working with schools and local governments to develop ways to smooth the path through training and into these jobs.
That all seems like a long time ago, but once things settle down again, our workforce shortage may very well be a problem again. This pandemic won’t last forever. Most of the people on unemployment right now will have jobs to go back to once the economy can fully open up again, and then things will get back to normal. So right now we have an opportunity to plan for making sure our new normal is even better than it was before.
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