MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota's unemployment rate dropped to an all-time low of 1.8% in June, according to the latest data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
That's lower than the national rate of 3.6%. Minnesota has tracked the numbers since 1976.
State data also show that Black and Hispanic workers have higher unemployment rates than white workers and wages aren't keeping pace with inflation. Hourly private sector wages in Minnesota rose 5.2%, but consumer prices have soared by 9% over the last year, according to the department's numbers
Steve Grove, commissioner of DEED, said it's been a challenge for businesses to hire. Minnesota has the fifth tightest job market in the nation, he said, and there are 72,000 fewer people in the state workforce than before the pandemic.
"I continually hear from the businesses we talk to that they are trying to hire people and can't find individuals," Grove said during a press conference Thursday. "I mean, 1.8% is an eye-poppingly low unemployment rate."
"This is an economy that's really a workers economy when it comes to opportunity," he added.
Pedro Wolcott just opened his Latin Caribbean-inspired restaurant Guacaya Bistreaux in the North Loop neighborhood in Minneapolis and said he's seen the challenges of hiring first-hand. The tight labor market contributed to his decision to replace traditional waiters and waitresses with a QR code on every table that customers use to order.
The pandemic changed the way he approached his business model.
"I cut three or four positions just by having QR codes, and we just combine runner and front counter as one job to make it easy on us, and ultimately it seems to work well," he said. "These are hard times to find labor, so this is really allowing us to offer the best of us with minimal staff on the floor."
There were 236,000 open positions in Minnesota in May of this year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Minnesota has been hovering between 231,000 and 239,000 vacancies for the past four months, said Oriane Casale, assistant director of the Labor Market Information Office at DEED, in an email.
In May, there was roughly one unemployed person for every three job openings in Minnesota, she said.
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