Forklifts are lined up and ready for action at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center, one of the major local employers. Mankato employers have to deal with the highest job vacancy rate in the state.  

MANKATO — Job vacancies keep hitting record highs, and the Mankato area has the highest job vacancy rate in Minnesota.

“It’s going to continue to climb. It’s a trend related to the retirement of baby boomers and the group coming behind them is smaller,” said John Considine, director of regional business intelligence at Greater Mankato Growth.

“In 2030 it will start to swing back, so we have 10 years of challenges, not just in the Mankato region but nationally. Retaining and attracting employees is a big chunk of what Greater Mankato Growth is trying to do,” he said.

The state Department of Employment and Economic Development reported Wednesday that second quarter job vacancy numbers reached a record 146,513.

The job vacancy rate in the second quarter was 5.3 percent or 5.3 vacancies per 100 jobs. This is the highest job vacancy rate the state has had since the job vacancy survey began in 2001.

In the southwest region, which includes Mankato, the vacancy rate was 7% with 12,458 jobs open. There is less than one potential applicant available for every open job.

Considine said about 70% of job vacancies in south-central Minnesota are related to production work. “Manufacturing represents the largest chunk of vacancies, but it affects everyone. If you talk to a professional service firm trying to hire an engineer or attorney, they have challenges, too,” he said.

“The companies that are good at promoting their opportunities and the culture of their workplace are in a better position (to fill positions).”

While this area has a strong and growing manufacturing sector hungry for employees, statewide other sectors have the most openings.

DEED said the top three industries with job openings statewide were health care and social assistance (28,100 job vacancies), accommodation and food services (24,701 job vacancies), and retail trade (22,347 job vacancies). The three industries accounted for over half of all job openings.

While the number of job vacancies has continued to increase over time, the educational requirements to fill the open positions also have changed.

The job vacancies now seen typically require less education and experience to fill. DEED said that trend may be due to the increased and persistently tight labor market conditions being experienced by employers.

In the second quarter of 2013, an estimated 25% of job vacancies required no formal education. In the second quarter of 2019, that share has increased to 37%.

On the other end of the spectrum, in the second quarter of 2013, 21% of job vacancies required a bachelor’s degree. As of the second quarter of 2019, that number has decreased to 14%.

The amount of work experience required for job vacancies also changed dramatically between the second quarters of 2013 and 2019, according to DEED.

In 2013 one-third of vacancies required less than one year of experience. That increased to over half this year.

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