The Big Story Blog

The Big Story Blog: October 20, 2011 Archive

Where's Minnesota employment headed?

Posted at 6:20 AM on October 20, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Economy, Jobs and unemployment

Minnesota fared better than most states during the recession. But if you're unemployed, it sure hasn't felt like a recovery.

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Really, your outlook on the current economy hinges on whether you kept a job the past few years.

Today we'll dig into Minnesota's employment situation. We'll get a better picture later this morning when state officials release jobless data for September. Jump in during the day with your stories and insights on what you've seen in the job market.

Here are some things we know today.

1.) Not much of a bounce back. Minnesota's August unemployment rate came in at 7.2 percent, much better than the U.S. jobless rate. Still, the state hasn't seen the kind of employment growth that typically follows recession.

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The jobless rate has improved during the recovery but the improvement has ebbed in recent months.

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2.) Businesses feel better but still gun shy on adding jobs. Surveys the past couple months paint a picture of manufacturers and other businesses seeing orders and sales starting to rise but few signs that those employers need or will add more workers.

In August, an ad hoc survey of 330 businesses in the Upper Midwest (85 percent in Minnesota) showed generally upbeat feelings with many expecting profits to rise or stay about the same.

Yet only 21 percent said they expect to add jobs this fall while 10 percent anticipate cuts.

And Creighton University's most recent Minnesota business index survey suggests manufacturers will lay off workers in coming months.


3.) Minnesota's wealth relative to other states is waning. MPR News reporter Annie Baxter recently put the state's economic situation into broad view.

"No matter how you look at the data, we are declining very rapidly or we're in stagnation," said Kyle Uphoff, an analyst at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. "Neither situation is one we like to be seeing."

Click on the play button to listen to the story.

The worries over Minnesota's jobs picture go beyond numbers. MPR News reporter Laura Yuen wrote recently that Twin Cities unemployment divide between black and white people is the nation's widest."

If you don't think that's a problem, think again. Students of color are the fastest growing student populations in Minnesota's schools. These are young people Minnesota will depend on to build the state's future Minnesota's economy and maintain its quality of life.

Thursday 10/20/2011
Jobs, jobless and Minnesota's economy

Posted at 6:20 AM on October 20, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Economy, Hed, Jobs and unemployment

Need-to-read stories on Minnesota's jobs picture

Posted at 8:21 AM on October 20, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Economy, Jobs and unemployment

20061009_helpwanted_3.jpgWe'll get the most recent data on Minnesota employment this morning when state officials release the state's jobless rate for September.

In August, the state added nearly 6,000 jobs -- but the unemployment rate remained unchanged from July at 7.2 percent.

As we wait for the news, here are some stories to get you current.

U.S. unemployment declines slightly for 4th straight week. The number of people applying for unemployment benefits declined slightly last week, leaving applications above levels consistent with a healthy economy.

Despite worry here about job growth, Minnesota's still doing better than the nation.

Budget pinch could spell job losses for govt. workers. MPR News reporter Annie Baxter this morning writes:

Budgets are pinched these days at all levels of government. And that could spell job losses in the public sector. The state's September jobs report, due out (today), could show more contraction in Minnesota's government sector.

Over at our Minnesota Today page, editor Michael Olson has pulled together a feed of stories on jobs and unemployment in Minnesota. Check it out.

Any other stories or links on Minnesota's employment picture we should care about? Post them below or contact us directly.

MN jobless rate drops to 6.9% but 7,400 private jobs cut

Posted at 9:24 AM on October 20, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Economy, Jobs and unemployment

We'll be providing live updates on the state's latest report on jobs and unemployment. Join in.


MN jobless rate fell but private sector took jobs hit

Posted at 10:53 AM on October 20, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Jobs and unemployment

MPR News editor Bill Catlin did some quick number crunching on today's employment data and found the private sector took a big hit, falling by 14,400 jobs in September compared to August.

"That's a pretty big turnaround from the strong gains of the previous four months, which averaged monthly job growth of 10,900," Catlin says.

Take a look at the data released today from the Department of Employment and Economic Development. See anything that interests you? Post below or contact us directly.

What jobs advice would you have given five years ago?

Posted at 12:59 PM on October 20, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Jobs and unemployment

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NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

My MPR News colleague Molly Bloom has been reaching out to Minnesotans in our Public Insight Network on jobs and employment issues.

One of the really interesting questions Bloom asked in her query about people's employment journies: "Looking back, what advice would you give yourself five years ago?"

Below is a sampling of the advice. It's pretty fascinating, really, a reflection of all that we've been through since 2006 from collapsing housing values to recession to tepid jobs recovery.

Take a look and then tell us: What advice you would have given yourself in 2006?

Insight

- Don't wait until 2011 to visit Paris.

- Buy farm land.

- Be selfish...forget about taking care of family first. Advice I'd give myself but know I wouldn't follow.

- Find a niche that the company cant shut down or outsource.

- Move forward. It's all going to work out beautifully.

- These aren't the times to follow your dreams.

- Spend time thinking about what you REALLY WANT to do, not just what you can do.

- Get your LICSW (social worker) credentials now!

- Buy a condo, not a house.

- Get rid of your credit cards, pay them off, sell the house by summer of 2007 and go back to school and earn your bachelor's degree in the Medical, Business or Energy fields

- Keep hopes high and expectations low.

- Nothing's permanent. Plan for change.

- Learn how to slow down and ask for help.

- Realize that exterior forces can come along that could change all your plans.

- Pay more attention to business trends before committing to long term educational goals.

- Do not move out of the Twin Cities.

- Leave Minnesota.

- Focus on what is important to you, the rest will come.

- Don't be complacent.

- It's not as scary as it looks.

- Take it easy, there's plenty of time to do everything you want to do.

- Get out. Take your chances and get out; look for other work.

- As fun as it would be, don't take that job teaching classes overseas.

- You have more talent than you think. It's important to just stick your neck out and try something.

- Enjoy your life, it goes by fast.

- Pay down debts and save a huge chunk "for a rainy-day."

- Do what you've got to do to make ends meet, but keep plugging away to get what you "really" want.

Who's been left behind by the job market?

Posted at 2:36 PM on October 20, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Jobs and unemployment

Worries over Minnesota's jobs picture go way beyond numbers.

MPR News reporter Laura Yuen wrote recently that Twin Cities unemployment divide between black and white people is the nation's widest.

Arm in arm is a new analysis by Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development that shows, "While the unemployment rate has been dropping in Minnesota, the number of people experiencing long-term unemployment continues to grow.

The data intersect in a sad but predictable way. Black, American Indian and Latino people are far more likely than whites to be unemployed and to be long term unemployed.

Here's the relevant chart from the DEED analysis.

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and one more important graphic:

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Bottom line: We saw the state's overall jobless rate fall today but that doesn't mean things are great. We're seeing a separation in Minnesota now with a large chunk of the unemployed in danger of being left behind when a real recovery does come.

Earlier this year, state demographer Tom Gillaspy and his colleagues wrote of a disturbing and growing mismatch between the skills of those looking for work and the skills employers seek to hire" and a "lost generation" of Minnesota workers, "where those with the necessary skills do very well while those without the desired skills will struggle economically for the remainder of their lives."

3 things to know about jobs, jobless in Minnesota

Posted at 4:53 PM on October 20, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Jobs and unemployment

20110603_a-banner-reading-jobs-_33.jpg
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

We spent the day chasing numbers, stories and insights on jobs and joblessness in Minnesota. Here are some of the things we found.

1.) Better than it looks? The latest Minnesota jobs data seemed to create more questions than it answered. The September jobless rate was 6.9 percent, down from August. Yet the state lost 7,400 private sector jobs.

Experts cautioned that residual job loss from the summer's state government shutdown may be making the data look worse that the reality.

"I don't think the news is quite as grim as you might think." state economist Tom Stinson told MPR News reporter Annie Baxter. Stinson agrees with estimates that put the "unsmoothed" rate at about 6.2 percent, much lower than the official rate.

"We're moving in the right direction," he added, "and moving a little faster in the right direction that one might think."

2.) Many of your friends and neighbors are still hurting. Whatever the precise Minnesota jobless percentage, there's no doubt that the job market has not bounced back from this recession as it has in others; 1981 had been the worst recession in decades but the job market re-ignited fairly quickly. Like much of the country, Minnesota's job growth hasn't bounced back in the way many hoped.

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We heard as much in the stories and job advice in hindsight we got from Minnesotans in MPR's Public Insight Network.

3.) Many are being left behind. Minnesota's economy will return eventually to full strength and the jobless rate will continue to go down. But not everyone is coming back to work.

State analysts are concerned about the growing long-term unemployed in Minnesota. The percentage of people unemployed for more than a year jumped in the recession and has stayed high during the "recovery."

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They are people being left behind by Minnesota's job market.

Earlier this year, state demographer Tom Gillaspy and his colleagues wrote of a disturbing and growing mismatch between the skills of those looking for work and the skills employers seek to hire" and a "lost generation" of Minnesota workers, "where those with the necessary skills do very well while those without the desired skills will struggle economically for the remainder of their lives."

That's a serious long-term worry for this state, no matter the current jobless number.

Learn anything today about jobs and unemployment that we missed? Want to share a story about life in this economy? Post something below or contact us directly.

Your neighbors' stories about jobs and joblessness

Posted at 4:41 PM on October 20, 2011 by Jon Gordon
Filed under: Jobs and unemployment

Earlier today we highlighted responses from Minnesotans in our Public Insight Network on the jobs advice they would have (should have?) given themselves five years ago when the economy was awesome and the upside on housing values was limitless.

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But my MPR New colleague Molly Bloom also asked random Minnesotans in our Public Insight Network just to share a little about their employment journey during the recession and "recovery." She got back some heartfelt responses that really capture what's happened to so many of us and our neighbors in the four years since the Great Recession officially began.

It wasn't a scientific poll. But I was struck by how many Minnesotans acknowledged pawning items to pay bills, bartering, struggling through foreclosure or seeking help from a food shelf.

"I was laid off in June 2009. My last pay check was in March. I do not expect to have any income from paid employment for the rest of the year," Mari Listopad of Minneapolis wrote us. "I am very concerned about this because I need more tax withholding in order to cover my income taxes this year. In have had to take money from my IRA to pay bills."

Mary Myers of Hopkins said her husband found full time work a few months ago "but for half the pay he used to make."

We are in our 50's and thought we had a very secure life. My husband got laid off from a Huge international company after he had been with them for 14 years. This is a very typical situation in our group of friends.

We no longer have any savings or anything to fall back on. It is very scary to think about elderly life now since we have to start all over.

Some Minnesotans wanted us to know they were doing OK.

"I am lucky to be working for a good stable company. With the economy the way it is, everyone is more nervous, but we always have job openings," said Mike Packer from Bloomington. His wife was unemployed for a short time but found work

While he's been worried over the past year about making ends meet, he says they've been able to stay current on house payments and are holding steady financially. Packer added: "I am one of the 80% of the country that is working and doing OK."

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Elton Fordyce told us he and his wife moved to Sioux Falls, SD earlier this year after both were unemployed. She found a job at a nursing home. He found work in late September as a customer service representative.

"We turned our house over to the mortgage company when we moved to Sioux Falls," he said. "We like our apartment and have no plans to ever buy another house. We are comfortable and content."

Financially, they are holding steady now, but "it has been a long few years."

I am currently earning 1/3 the salary I was earning 3 years ago. It has been hard making ends month to month while also paying for all the related moving expenses but we made it by selling off most of our personal property piece by piece and some help from my sister.

This is my second round of unemployment this decade. I am hoping that living in a larger city in a low tax state will help keep me employed until retirement.

I thank God for the blessings I have received, I've learned a lot about the ups and downs of life and am more appreciative of what I have.

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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