Latest Stats Show Steep Hiring Challenges for Northland Employers

Prior to the pandemic, a tight labor market meant that there were fewer jobseekers than open positions. That situation has almost returned as the ratio of jobseekers to job vacancies sat at just over one at the end of last year. 

Data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development indicates that, as of quarter four of 2020, Northeast Minnesota had 7,846 unemployed people compared to 7,102 job vacancies — a ratio of 1.1.

In contrast to previous recessions, we are seeing high numbers of open positions along with elevated unemployment. In March, low labor force participation rates left Northeast Minnesota with its smallest labor force since 1996.

As the pandemic set in, Minnesota lost 357,000 jobs. In the Duluth metro area (Carlton County, St. Louis County, and Douglas County in Wisconsin), we lost 21,300 jobs initially, of which 57.7% returned through November. December saw declines and we ended the year with 42% of those jobs recovered. 

Since the end of 2020, the metro area added 3,400 jobs. Meanwhile the labor force is over 6,000 workers smaller than it was a year previously.

Job losses are not spread evenly, with service-providing industries hit harder than goods-producing sectors. Industries which are more amenable to telework have also sustained fewer job losses.

Source: DEED Data Visualization

“In order to assess the full impacts of the pandemic on northeast Minnesota, we must look at both unemployment and labor force trends,” pointed out Carson Gorecki, Regional Labor Market Analyst for Northeast Minnesota. “With the onset of the pandemic, many workers opted to stop looking for work altogether. Whether these workers choose to re-enter the labor force will in many ways indicate the strength of the recovery for the region.”

As uncertainty in the labor market continues, DEED’s Labor Market Information (LMI) office is monitoring employment statistics, unemployment rates, wages and salaries, and other indicators. You can contact Regional Labor Market Analyst for Northeast Minnesota Carson Gorecki at for more information and data. You can also read more about pandemic employment trends on the Northspan blog here.

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