— On its face the latest state job-opening overview appears to be good news, but it comes with some big “buts” attached.
According to state figures there are 28,000 job openings in Greater Minnesota, the largest number since 2004.
There are 76,000 unemployed people competing for those, only 15,000 of those jobs are full-time, and the median wage of all job openings is $10.08 an hour that, according to one cost-of-living research finding, falls more than a dollar short of the wage required for a single person to meet basic needs.
This gloomy take on Minnesota’s job-opening landscape comes from St. Paul-based Jobs Now Coalition, which advocates for family-supporting wages for all Minnesotans.
Using Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development figures, Jobs Now highlights the latest figures thusly:
* Job seekers in Minnesota still outnumber full-time openings 5-1.
* Nearly one-third of all openings are in three occupational groups — sales and related, food preparation and serving, and building and grounds maintenance. Those three groups of openings have a combined median wage of $7.57 an hour, which is 32 cents above minimum wage.
* Only 42 percent of all openings offer health care.
* Nearly half of all openings are part-time, and the median wage for these openings is $8.75 an hour.
Jobs Now states that a single wage-earner with no dependents must earn $11.46 an hour working full time to meet basic needs. And in a family of four, with both parents working full time, each worker must earn $13.04 an hour to meet those needs.
Kyle Rollings, a caseworker for the Mankato Salvation Army, said the so-called working poor comprise about 75 percent of his clientele.
He said for many people being employed by no means equates to self-sufficiency.
“You can’t raise a family on a Burger King job, but that’s the kind of jobs they’re getting,” he said.
He said the working poor population locally includes people from Southern states coming to the community for reasons not entirely clear.
“They’ll say, ‘We heard this was a great place, a good place to raise families,’” Rollings said.
He also said he encounters families that, in effect, can’t afford to have both spouses working even if jobs are available.
He said he worked with a couple recently whereby the husband was employed but his wife chose not to work because the couple has three pre-school-age children and day care costs would more than usurp her wages.
Greater Minnesota consists of all areas of the state excluding the seven-county metro area.