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:

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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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Feeling Anxious?

If you answered “Yes!” to that question, you are not alone. In fact, you are part of the majority.

Rates of anxiety and depression among U.S. adults were about 4 times higher between April 2020 and August 2021 than they were in 2019. Some of the sharpest increases were among males, Asian Americans, young adults, and parents with children in the home, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even without a pandemic, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million of adults in the United States age 18 and older. Although anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.

Anxiety, in short, is a disconnect between your mind and body. Your mind is worrying about something in the past or future (like an exam). Your body, however, does not have the capability to recognize past or future; it can only live in the here and now. This causes your body to have a set of physical reactions as it is preparing to fight, run, or freeze.

Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. It is healthy for the mind and body to experience some anxiety. However, anxiety becomes a more serious issue when it begins to interfere with your daily life, becomes excessive, is unmanageable, or leads to panic attacks. Professionally speaking, you could be diagnosed with anxiety if you experience symptoms for six consecutive weeks. Instead of waiting for those weeks to pass, you can take steps to reduce your anxiety now.

Here are some useful (and maybe even a little goofy) scientifically supported techniques you can use when you’re experiencing anxiety.

1. Give your mind a name. If you give your mind a name, it makes it easier to disagree with and move on to a more helpful thought. The average human has 60,000-80,000 thoughts every day. That’s a ton! How many of those thoughts are actually useful for you? Maybe a small handful each day? Do yourself a favor and name your mind. Mine is named Jeff. We are friends. Jeff gives me quite a few strange thoughts, but I can respectfully disagree with him.

2. Go to your “one-stop” shopping store. Well, you don’t have to physically go there, but imagine that your mind is like that store where there are tons of items. (Your items are your thoughts.)  Some items in the store are useful. Some are worthless to you. Some you never even knew existed! Do you go into the store planning to buy everything in the store? No way! Your mind works the same way. As you are shopping around the aisles of your thoughts, you get to choose what you buy and what you leave on the shelf!

3. Repeat it. Created by psychologist Edward Titchener, this little trick shows people how a word loses its meaning when repeated over and over and over. If you want to give it a try, take the word “milk.” Take a moment and think of a nice, cold glass of milk. Then repeat the word “milk” out loud for 30 seconds. You’ll notice that it starts to lose meaning and just becomes a weird sound that’s hard to say. Try doing 30 seconds of “failure” or “loser” or “ugly” the next time a thought like that causes you anxiety or pain.

4. Sing the thought or say it in a funny voice. I suggest using “Happy Birthday” as the melody to that anxious thought you’re experiencing, and maybe your favorite cartoon character’s voice. I know, I know, it sounds strange. I promise you, though, this is based on hundreds of scientific studies!

These are just a handful of skills that are a portion of Cognitive Defusion. Defusion is part of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which was created and researched by Dr. Steven Hayes. I hope they are helpful for you!

To learn more about Cognitive Defusion, you can watch Dr. Hayes speak about it during his TedTalk.

Growing Area Talent Through High School Youth

Mankato Area Public Schools (MAPS) is increasing career pathway exploration by encouraging students to participate in Work-Based Learning opportunities. All high school youth are eligible to participate in activities to explore and refine skills through this unique form of learning outside the classroom. We are excited that so many local businesses have opened their doors to help youth discover and explore their futures! Our options in work-based learning provide “layered learning” for students who need additional experiences to help shape their decisions. Some of these options are listed below; additionally, employers can choose from an array of 12 partnership opportunities by completing this survey:

Individualized Career Exploration Experiences

MAPS students are encouraged to participate in exploration opportunities before extended work-based learning. Below are some of the unique ways that employers can showcase their careers and companies:

Job Shadows

A traditional 1:1 shadowing experience exploring a specific career. Students provide their own transportation.

Career Interviews

A virtual shadowing experience for 1-3 students in a career field.

Career Forums

Employers visit the high school site to share information with a small group of students (2-10) who have identified a specific career pathway of interest.

Lunch & Learns

Targeted group of students who visit multiple industries and post-secondary instiutions throughout the year to learn about career fields and programming.

Mini Site Tours

Small groups of students (2-7) who have identified an area of interest tour a company to learn more.

Note: Other exploration opportunities for students include Classroom Speakers and Classroom Field Trips

Work Experience

MAPS believes that work empowers students to build career skills (soft skills) and knowledge to be quality employees and citizens. Students earn credits for their employment. Students are required to take a Career Planning course prior or in conjunction with their work. This is available for any student in grades 9-12.

Career Internship

A Career Internship is a paid or unpaid experience taking a deeper dive into a student’s area of interest. Students earn high school credits through this model by taking career pathway coursework and then applying that skill and knowledge at a worksite helping them gain skills and experiences. An example of a career internship is our partnership with Mayo Clinic Health System. Mayo Clinic Health System Explorers are students who take a full semester to learn about a wide variety of healthcare careers by working in several departments in the Mankato Mayo Clinic Health System facility. From nursing to pharmacy, lab tech to information technology, students are seeing how their talents and interests can be applied almost anywhere. Students attend weekly seminars at the school to build their resumes and portfolios.

YOUTH APPRENTICESHIPS

These full-year or multi-year opportunities are for students who are highly motivated to work in a field. Currently, our youth apprenticeship programs are in Advanced Manufacturing. An example is our YEAP partnership (Youth Employment Acceleration Program). Students work for up to 2 years at a company, learning the various roles and responsibilities within the organization. MTU Onsite Energy, EI Microcircuits, Kato Cable, and Lindsay Window and Door are YEAP partners providing opportunities for students to take a direct hands-on approach to learning about the field of advanced manufacturing.

Last year–even with COVID–approximately 250 students participated in a work-based learning experience in the district. This number will likely grow as students move toward taking their learning in new directions and businesses continue to look for talent and consider why training the youngest of employees can benefit their organization. Through these experiences, students are developing a network of support that can help them long after they graduate. Students taking advantage of any of the work-based learning options are building their personal toolkit to be career, college, and life ready. 

Thank you for your interest in learning more about partnership opportunities at MAPS, and again, if you are interested in partnering with MAPS, please complete the survey below.

Podcast: Heartless Hackers Demanding GIft cards

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the importance of cybersecurity has quickly become a quintessential part of today’s business strategy. More than 50% of businesses have been the victim of a cyberattack, and as many as 60% of those hacked businesses end up going out of business.

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Email, Phone, or Text – Which Is Best for Communicating with Customers?

Customer Texting is in Demand

According to one study, 63% of respondents said they would switch to a company that offered text messaging to communicate. That’s not surprising when 92% say they expect to wait on hold five minutes or more before speaking to a human being.

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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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Employee Retention Credit: 7k Quarterly Wage Subsidy per Employee for 2021

The COVID recession isn’t over for everyone. For businesses still struggling to return to 2019 revenue levels, the tax law has a lifeline: a refundable tax credit of up to $7,000 per-employee, per-quarter.

It’s easy to see how $7,000 per quarter, per employee, can add up. For a qualifying company with 50 employees, for example, it could mean as much as $1,400,000 in benefits for 2021.

The Employer Retention Credit was first enacted early in 2020 as a tax credit of up to $5,000 per employee for 2020. It applies to taxpayers who have either:

  1. Had a full or partial suspension of business due to a government order, or
  2. Had a significant decline in gross receipts.
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