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Layoffs Forcing Thousands Of Minnesotans Back Into Job Market

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- With the news of the state's booming economy, sometimes lost in the headlines are the layoffs affecting thousands of Minnesotans.

So far this year, more than 4,000 people have lost their jobs as companies have cut back or closed altogether.

From retail to manufacturing, WCCO is taking a look at the mismatch in the market and where the job openings are right now.

For six years, he was proud to be a part of the Minnesota staple in Maplewood.

Working in reporting and analytics at 3M, Michael Learned knew it wasn't good when on a Monday last month, he had a meeting notice from his supervisor.

"It's never easy to lose a part of who you are, really," Learned said.

"Going through my mind was did I miss something, did I upset somebody, am I not meeting some type of expectation?" he added.

Learned was one of 20 in his division given their 45-day notice. Forcing him back into the job market.

"Whether it's internal or external I need to find something for me and my kids," Learned said.

Learned is far from alone, Minnesota reports from the last year show thousands more in the same situation.

Director of Employer Services at Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development, Jackie Buch walked us through the trends the office has been tracking this year.

"Layoffs are very hard for both employers and for their workers," Buch said.  "We're seeing the majority of layoffs happening in the retail industry," she added.

From shuttering all Shopkos to Payless Shoes in the state, Creative Kids Stuff and the American Girl store, it's no secret online habits have played a part.

"People are looking at alternative ways to shop. That's impacting some of our smaller retailers," Buch said.

Overall, The Department of Employment believes the future looks bright for most Minnesota workers with 140,000 job openings right now. That's two vacancies for every one worker.

"When this first came out, people were saying we need more skilled workers. We need more workers," Buch said.

As a Labor Economist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, Aaron Sojourner says the fact the state is not hyper focused on one job sector helps.

"Minnesota is actually really unique in that we have a really diverse economy," Sojourner said.

"That means we're sort of resilient when different shocks hit different parts of the economy," he added.

Sojourner cites falling demand as the largest reason for layoffs with globalization, outsourcing, and automation all at play.  Economists say healthcare, robotics and IT fields in Minnesota all show the most promise.

As the unplanned countdown continues for what Learned can only hope will be to gainful employment.

"I'm OK right now. Ask me in 30 days and it may be a different answer," Learned said.

Sojourner says one of the biggest challenges in Minnesota right now is our wage growth has slowed in the last six months, following a national trend.

If you've been laid off, the state has nearly 50 career force locations across Minnesota to help connect workers with skills training and new jobs. For links to those and to the dislocated worker helpline head to the Employment and Economic Development Department's website.

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