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Help Wanted: Minnesota Is Losing Workers

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- State officials say Minnesota has a problem: Too many jobs, too few workers.

Economists say the answer is more immigrants -- while at the same time President Donald Trump is trying to restrict them.

Think of it as Minnesota posting a "Help Wanted" notice. There are more jobs available in the next five years than workers to fill them. And state officials say that's a major threat to the economy of a state that traditionally has more people moving in than moving out.

"Even in a cold climate that gets to 70 below, we are the one state in the upper Midwest that has an influx of people coming in," said Tim Walz, Minnesota's newly-elected Democratic governor.

The State Department of Economic Development says Minnesota's worker shortage is the result of:

  • Lower birth rates
  • Large numbers of baby boomers retiring
  • And a surprising reason: Not enough immigrants

Minnesota's always had a large immigrant population to fuel the economy. In 1870, 36% of residents were foreign born. In 2017, only 8%.

Reality Check Minnesota Labor Shortage
(credit: CBS)

Without immigrant workers, economists predict Minnesota's job growth will slow to a trickle in the next five years -- a warning Washington doesn't seem to hear.

The Trump administration is restricting legal immigration to its lowest level in years.

The number of Minnesota immigrants is down from 12,000 in 2016 to 8,283 in 2018. Refugees are also down, from 3,059 to 683.

President Trump says "the country is full."

"We can't take you. Our country is full, our area's full, the sector is full. Can't take you anymore, I'm sorry," Trump said.

Minnesota currently has 137,000 job vacancies, most of them in the health care field. And the largest number of those openings are in greater Minnesota.

The United States Census Bureau reports that most of the recent immigrants to Minnesota are coming from India, Mexico, China and Somalia.

Here are some of the sources that we used for this Reality Check:

MNEED: Minnesota Economic Trends

MNEED: Refugee Arrival Map

MNEED: Minnesota's Budget & Economic Forecast

The Census In Minnesota

Star Tribune: Twin Cities Population Growth Crimped By Immigration Drop

Mpls-St. Paul Business Journal: Why Our Stagnating Labor Force Needs Your Attention Now

Reuters: Trump Proposal Would Make It Easier To Deport Immigrants Who Use Public Benefits

Pioneer Press: Immigrants, Out-Of-Staters Key To Minnesota's Continued Growth

Politifact: Trump-O-Meter -- Limit Legal Immigration

Star Tribune: Why The 1860s Were A Pivotal Decade Of Change For Minnesotans Trump Is Fighting to Dramatically Restrict Legal Immigration

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