Water technology is big business in Minnesota, accounting for more than $729 million in foreign sales alone in 2012. Minnesota is among the top 10 exporters nationally of water and wastewater treatment technology, and the industry employs nearly 15,500 people in the state, including engineers, hydrologists and conservation scientists.
Manufacturers throughout the state are struggling to fill openings, according to the latest round of DEED’s Minnesota Hiring Difficulties Survey. Based on a survey of manufacturers last spring, two-thirds of the industry’s job openings in Minnesota were classified as hard to fill.
A proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage generated a lot of debate in the Minnesota Legislature last year and is expected to come up again in the next session. The minimum wage in Minnesota generally is $7.25 an hour, although it can be as low as $5.25 in certain cases. In the 2014 session, state lawmakers are expected to debate whether to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, phased in over a three-year period.
Along with the housing industry, kitchen cabinet manufacturing in central Minnesota is simmering again. Jobs in the 13-county region jumped 27.4 percent from 2010 to 2012, which was more than five times as fast as the state as a whole, which gained 4.8 percent.
Today’s sold out Minnesota Construction Industry Conference in Bloomington is an opportunity for industry professionals to network and to learn more about new state programs, services, and regulations and rules.
The conference also offers a chance for the industry to take stock of where it’s been and where it’s headed.
Last August, Minnesota achieved a milestone when DEED announced the state had recovered all the jobs that were lost in the recession. But not all cities in the state have fared the same in the recovery, with some still struggling to bring job totals back to pre-recessionary levels.
The Minnesota construction sector was among the industries that suffered the most during the recession, losing thousands of jobs when the housing sector collapsed. But the industry has shown remarkable resiliency in recent years, especially in the past 12 months, when it added 6,500 jobs statewide, a healthy 7.5 percent growth rate that easily outpaced the 2.2 percent growth rate nationally during that period.
Minnesota continues to rack up some impressive numbers in a recovery that is now in its 52nd month.
In the latest state employment numbers announced today, DEED said Minnesota employers added 9,500 jobs in December, bringing total job gains in the state to 45,900 in the past year. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.6 percent, well below the U.S. unemployment rate of 6.7 percent.
Minnesota has a rich beer-making tradition, with the state at one time being home to more than 120 breweries. Pummeled by Prohibition, the Great Depression, industry consolidations and competition from national brands, the state’s breweries had declined to four by the 1980s.
When Gov. Mark Dayton introduced his two-year budget plan last year, he made it clear that one of his highest priorities was to create jobs and make Minnesota more attractive for businesses. He proposed a number of tools, including the Minnesota Job Creation Fund, which recently began taking applications from qualified businesses.