We did a shout-out a couple days ago just asking Minnesotans if they're seeing any surprising economic indicators. We were intrigued when Denise Felder tweeted us that she's seeing some positive potential in the state's job market.
"I am seeing more job openings, mostly part time and contract. But businesses are ready to hire again," said Felder, an outreach specialist for ISEEK, a career and job site developed in part by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System and Department of Employment and Economic Development.
"I'm not a recruiter and I don't purposely look for job leads," she said when we asked for more detail. "However, when the economy is good, it's easy to find openings to pass along to networking contacts.
"That flow of job leads was completely dry for most of 2009. In the last week or two I've seen a turn around. Various networking contacts have announced a half-dozen immediate openings. Most of these jobs are part-time, contact or both, but the flow of jobs is beginning again."
The economic research says Minnesota will not come roaring back this year. Creighton University's Minnesota index expects slight overall job growth in the first half of this year but not in the critical manufacturing sector.
The most recent Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis outlook also projects a tough year for Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
Felder's vantage point, though, offers some hope below the radar. She wrote us:
The jobs I've seen this time around have mostly been in the nonprofit/social services.
They have programs that needed staff but were not able to hire until budgets or grants kicked in in the new year -- they are to fill immediate needs and these types of openings will only be around for a few weeks.
Because most of these jobs are part time or contract, they are likely to be filled through networking or by re-contacting people who have already sent their resumes to these organizations. My guess it it will be several weeks (or months) before we see a real increase in publicized jobs.
I remember in 2000-2002 that the tech and communication jobs hit by that recession first came back as immediate-hire contract positions.
It will take several months for the job market to get back to normal (and we will have to redefine what "normal" is ), but the economy is improving.
How should Minnesota redefine a "normal" job market?
"We shouldn't expect the same jobs in the same industries to come back offering the same pay as before," said Felder, who also edits the MnCareers guide.
"Time will tell which business sectors will bounce back and thrive and which will not offer the same levels of employment as before. Job seekers should look at the skills used in jobs, not job titles."
Click on the map icons below to read what sources in MPR's Public Insight Network have been telling us about the job climate in Minnesota, then share your story.