2022 Legislative Session Recap: What could have been

The 2022 legislative session could be characterized in one word: disappointing. There was so much opportunity to do good work and help Minnesotans. Very little of that opportunity was seized. This may not be entirely surprising, given Minnesota is one of only two states with divided control of the legislature (Republicans have the majority in the Senate, and the Democrats have the majority in the House). But Minnesota has a tradition of compromise and it is also something that is structurally required by our state’s constitution: the state must pass a balanced budget every two years, bonding bills (borrowing money) requires a super majority of both the House and the Senate, and, of course, all legislation must be signed by the Governor. There have been hiccups along the way, but Minnesotans expect elected officials to work together and get their work done, even if a little late.

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April 2022 Employment Figures – Unemployment Hits All-Time Low

According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there were fewer unemployed job seekers in April 2022 than in any other month since data became available in January 1990. With only 766 unemployed, this was the first time that unemployment in Greater Mankato dropped below 1000 since November 1999 when unemployment was at 924. Due to a smaller labor force in 1999, that reflected an unemployment rate of 2.5% while the April 2022 unemployment rate fell to an all-time low of 1.3%.

Since January, the region has added 1,600 jobs and increased employment by 1,060. Between March and April, 600 jobs were added and employment increased by 268. This is shrinking the gap that exists from employment, where numbers have returned to pre-pandemic levels and jobs, where numbers have lagged behind. This shrinking gap could be caused by more people from outside the region taking jobs locally, individuals working remotely for a company outside of our region deciding to work for a local business, and individuals deciding to work multiple jobs.

Note that the difference between these two statistics is that jobs record the number of paychecks being issued by companies in Blue Earth & Nicollet County regardless of where employees live. Employment records the number of people living in Blue Earth & Nicollet County who work, regardless of where they work. A deeper explanation of this difference can be found at the end of the January employment figure report.

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March 2022 Employment Figures – Jobs & Employment Hold Mostly Steady

Preliminary figures for March were released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and showed minor changes to both jobs and employment numbers in the Greater Mankato Area. The region saw job (nonfarm payroll) growth of 200 increasing to 56,400. This follows adjustments to the February numbers that added an additional 200 jobs to what was reported in February.

Conversely, the region saw employment fall by 193 to 60,114. While this sets a historic record for the highest employment seen in March, seeing a reduction in employment between February and March is unusual for our region. The 193 person decrease reflected a reduction of 3 tenths of one percent.  A deeper explanation of the difference between these two statistics and why the number of jobs is less than employment can be found at the end of the January employment figure report.

The total labor force saw a similar decrease as 146 people exited the labor force bringing the March labor force to 61,478.

Unemployment remained at a historic March low of 1,364. Traditionally, our region only sees unemployment numbers this low between September and December. The 2.2% unemployment rate remains much lower than the state unemployment rate of 2.8% and the federal unemployment rate of 3.8%.

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Teen Connect & Mankato Job Fair – Two Opportunities in May

There are two upcoming opportunities for employers to reach potential candidates in May. On Wednesday, May 11, Mankato Area Public Schools is hosting their first-ever job fair, volunteer fair, and enrichment fair aimed at high school students. On Saturday, May 14, Greater Mankato Growth is partnering with Radio Mankato to host the third Mankato Job Fair.

Teen Connect

On Wednesday, May 11 from 9-11:30, Mankato Area Public Schools is hosting Teen Connect. This event will be an opportunity for an expected 200+ students to learn about work opportunities, volunteer opportunities, and enrichment programs like camps and clubs that are available to students.

Employers with paid summer work opportunities can register for the event for $25/table and can sign up to do onsite interviews from 11:30-12:30. More details and a signup link are available in this flyer.

Organizations with volunteer opportunities can register for $10/table.

Mankato Job Fair

Greater Mankato Growth is partnering with Radio Mankato to host another Mankato Job Fair on Saturday, May 14 from 9-1 at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center. This job fair is held on a Saturday to make it accessible to those looking to advance their careers and for those who live in communities outside of the region, but who may commute or move for a new opportunity. When we first held this job fair one year ago, it was the most successful job fair in the state at that time.

Employers interested in participating in the job fair can see who else is attending at MankatoJobFair.com and can register by calling Radio Mankato at 507-345-4537.

February 2022 Employment Figures – Employment & Jobs Rise

Preliminary figures for February were released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Between January & February, Greater Mankato saw employment growth of 900 to a post-pandemic high of 60,194. Jobs (total nonfarm payroll) increased by 700 to 56,000. In short, the difference between jobs and employment is that the jobs number counts the number of paychecks being issued in Greater Mankato and employment counts the number of people who live in Mankato who work. A deeper explanation of the difference between these two statistics and why the number of jobs is less than employment can be found at the end of the January employment figure report.

Unemployment decreased by 342 and the labor force grew by 558. The growth in employment and labor force comes on top of January numbers that have been adjusted up by 200 since they were released last month.

The employment numbers in our region and the jobs numbers in our region paint two very different pictures of the talent shortage. Employment is at its highest point since the beginning of the pandemic and is down by less than 400 compared to February 2020. This tells us that the vast majority of people in our region have returned to work in some form. In contrast, jobs are down by 2,800 compared to February 2020. This helps explain why there are so many businesses short workers despite the labor force return in Greater Mankato. There are a number of possible reasons for this difference:

Continue reading “February 2022 Employment Figures – Employment & Jobs Rise”

January 2022 Employment Figures – Employment Rises While Total Jobs Worked Falls

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released preliminary January data for their Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) and Current Employment Statistics (CES) reports. In these reports, we saw that the number of employed individuals living in the Mankato-North Mankato MSA rose by 366 while the number of jobs being worked (total nonfarm payroll) in our region dropped by 900 (information on the difference between employed individuals & jobs data can be found at the end of this blog post).

The number of non-farm jobs being worked in our region dropped from 56,300 in December 2021 to 55,400 in January 2022, a 1.6% decrease. In contrast, the number of employed individuals rose from 58,716 to 59,082 over the same period, a 0.6% increase. Individuals entering the labor force rose by an even higher 1.1% (688) people. Between December 2021 and January 2022, the labor force rose from 60,050 to 60,638 – its highest point since November 2020.

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OSHA Issues Emergency Temporary Standard

This morning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) filed a hotly-anticipated Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) related to COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and face coverings in the workplace. This follows an announcement by President Biden on September 9, 2021, directing OSHA to develop a rule to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Details are posted on the OSHA website, but here are some of the key highlights:

  • ETS is effective immediately, as of 11/5/2021.
  • Employers must comply with all requirements, except testing, within 30 days. Testing compliance within 60 days.
  • ETS applies to employers with 100 or more employees. In Minnesota, along with other states with an OSHA approved State Plan, the ETS applies to public sector workers employed by state and local governments, including educators and school staff.
  • Employers must determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain proof of vaccination status, and maintain records.
  • Require employees to notify the employer of a positive COVID test or diagnosis. Employers must then remove the employee from the workplace.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated must be tested at least weekly if the employee is in the workplace at least one day a week.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated must wear a face covering when indoors or in a vehicle with another person for work purposes.
  • ETS does not require employers to pay for testing or face coverings. Employers may assume costs if they so choose.
  • ETS does not apply to 100% remote employees or employees who work exclusively outdoors.
  • Requires employers to provide up to four hours of paid time to receive each vaccination dose, and reasonable time and paid sick leave to recover from side effects experiencing following each dose.

Greater Mankato Growth staff is continuing to monitor this announcement. We will provide additional details and resources as they become available.

MN Main Street Grants Program: Applications Begin September 20

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has announced that the Minnesota Main Street COVID Relief Grants Program applications will be accepted as of Monday, September 20, 2021. This program, approved by the Minnesota State Legislature and signed by Governor Tim Walz on June 30, will offer $64,200,000 in grants for Minnesotan-owned and operated businesses that can demonstrate a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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2021 (Special) Legislative Session Recap

Minnesota’s 92nd legislative session ended their 2021 regular session on May 17th without a budget. The Governor and Legislative leaders instead released a budget framework with a target of $52 billion for the next biennium. Lawmakers worked for four weeks on final details largely outside of the public eye until they convened a special session on June 14th. All spending bills were passed and signed into law by June 31st.

The need for a special session was largely due to a late infusion of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021. Roughly $8.5 billion was allocated in the bill to the State of Minnesota for various programs.

Budget

A final budget of $52 billion was signed into law on June 31, 2021. This biennial budget is an increase of approximately $1.3 billion over the previous budget – much of that one-time funding from ARPA. Included in the bill are direct tax cuts of $644 million to people who lost jobs and employers who kept people working during the pandemic.

Paycheck Protection Program

The final tax bill included full conformity to federal tax law with regards to the Paycheck Protection Program at a cost of roughly $375 million in fiscal year 2022. Businesses and organizations that received PPP loans will not be subject to either federal or state income tax on the amount of the loan received.

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Greater Mankato Growth Sends Letter to Governor Walz

Today, Greater Mankato Growth sent a letter to Governor Tim Walz providing statistics to create awareness of talent challenges facing our region.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development has taken great strides to ensure that individuals receiving unemployment insurance are aware of the job opportunities that exist across the state.

We asked that the State implement measures to supplement the work that is being done surrounding awareness of job availability by creating enforcement measures, while offering flexibility for those still impacted by COVID-19 considerations. You can read the full letter here.

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