Leaving Minnesota? A deeper look

New college grad Allison Troyer told us recently about leaving Minnesota after she couldn’t find find work here. We asked her for some detail. For people concerned about the state’s future workforce, her story’s worth exploring.Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for minnecon.smallicon.gif

Keeping smart, young workers like Troyer in-state is crucial to Minnesota’s long-term health. The recession is exposing a long-term weakness — an aging state labor force that won’t grow enough to meet the economy’s needs.

The good news is Troyer, a source in MPR’s Public Insight Network now working in California, says she intends to return to Minnesota eventually, maybe after law school. It’s what she encountered the past few months that’s worrisome. She tells us:

I think that the current job market in Minnesota is difficult for anyone looking for work, but especially so for recent graduates.

Even for people that have some experience, a good resume and a great academic background, there is little hope unless you have particular skills that perfectly match the needs of the employer.

A bachelor’s degree felt as though it was a dime a dozen and any internships in college or indicators of potential seemed nearly worthless.

It is impossible to compete with individuals that have been in the workforce for even one year that will work for the same amount as a recent grad.

Troyer, 23, is from Coon Rapids. She graduated in December from the University of Minnesota with a journalism degree.

I thought that I wouldn’t necessarily have an extremely difficult job search. I had several decent internships while in college…I knew my job search would be difficult and, starting around the holidays, there isn’t much activity in terms of hiring, but as the months wore on I found less and less.

I first applied to any communications or public relations position because that was my specialty. Within two months I began applying to any position that I thought I could loosely qualify for including secretarial positions and a barista position, which I took to pay the bills.

Around May it occurred to me that my student loans bill would arrive in July and I needed to start thinking about looking elsewhere.

While searching for government jobs in Minnesota, I decided to look at openings in California and found a paralegal specialist position with the IRS… I applied to it, immediately forgot about it and about a month later had a phone interview.

With that I was offered the job and accepted as soon as I learned more about the position, the location and the pay (which far surpassed any number of jobs that I applied for in MN).

It was pretty hard to leave Minnesota. I came to the realization that the state wasn’t going to offer that to me at this point.

After jumping 15 percent this decade, Minnesota’s labor force is projected to grow only 8.7 percent over the coming 25 years, while aging significantly. Also, Minnesota is a net exporter of college-bound, new high school graduates

That’s not a good mix for a state that is not the draw people think it is. Who will grow the economy? Who will help pay for Baby Boomer retirements, public education and quality of life?

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Got a different perspective to share or think I’m out of line? Drop me a line or post below. Also, check out the map to read what people in our Network have told us about the job climate around them. Then share your story.

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