Mankato has the lowest unemployment rate of any city in the country — and it’s one of six cities in the state or on its border that were among the top 20 for jobs this fall.
With an ultra-low rate of 1.3%, Mankato topped the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of metropolitan areas with the lowest unemployment rates in September. October figures will be released next week.
The statewide of Minnesota recorded an unemployment rate of 2.1% in October, tied with Utah for first place among states. Minnesota has been at the top since June, when it recorded the lowest unemployment rate in US history, at 1.8%.
The low rates are shaped by strong hiring since the coronavirus pandemic was brought under control and a shrinking overall labor pool. The state’s more than $3 million workforce is still about 90,000 fewer workers than it was before the pandemic.
Labor experts have pointed to accelerated retirements among the state’s aging population and ongoing challenges with child or elder care as some of the reasons some workers have not returned to the workforce. work.
In September, Rochester, with an unemployment rate of 1.5%, tied for the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the United States with Sioux Falls, SD, and Jefferson City, Mo. St. Cloud arrived at No. 11 with unemployment. rate of 1.7%.
The Twin Cities were also on the list. With an unemployment rate of 1.9%, he was tied at six for No. 19.
Fargo (1.4%) and Grand Forks (1.6%) — cities in neighboring North Dakota whose metro areas include Minnesota cities — are also in the top 10.
So what’s going on in those Minnesota towns that have driven their unemployment rates so low?
“We know Rochester has a strong healthcare sector,” Alicia Cordes-Mayo, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Jobs and Economic Development, wrote in an email. “And Mankato and St. Cloud have major universities and manufacturing opportunities.”
All of these can contribute to low unemployment rates, she added.
Health care and manufacturing, of course, are some of the industries that have felt the pinch of labor shortages the most.
Mankato has historically had a very low unemployment rate – often below 3% in its busiest times of the year – and a very high labor force participation rate, said Ryan Vesey, director of economic development and research for Greater Mankato Growth, the region’s chamber of commerce. .
But 1.3% is tied for the lowest ever, he said.
Vesey said employers in Mankato are looking for more workers, hiring more people with disabilities or people rehabilitating after incarceration, and being more accommodating to immigrants. He cited a recent example of a manufacturer installing footwash stations and prayer rooms for workers in East Africa.
Employers are also turning to automation and robotics to help fill the gaps, he said.
“I think sometimes people look at this low unemployment rate and say, man, it’s really hard to be an employer right now,” Vesey said. “But what sometimes goes unnoticed is that unemployment is only so low because companies are doing extremely well. Otherwise they wouldn’t need all these people.”
Sean O’Neil, director of economic research for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, noted that Minnesota often has a much lower unemployment rate compared to the United States as a whole. In October, the US unemployment rate was 3.7%.
He said the difference between the two right now is about the same as it has been in the past decades since the federal government began tracking state unemployment rates in 1976.
But during the pandemic, Minnesota has lost more people from its workforce than some other states that also have low unemployment rates, he said.
“And we haven’t seen a significant recovery of those workers,” O’Neil said. “So that’s an intensifying factor that’s contributing to these really low unemployment rates.”
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