Tough job market continues for many Minnesotans, no matter the numbers

On Thursday, we’ll get our next best look at Minnesota’s employment situation when the state releases jobless data for November.

Thoughts are mixed on whether we’ll see an uptick on the 7.6 percent rate from October. Even if it goes up that may be a sign of something good — people who fell out of the labor force completely in the recession re-entering to at least search again.

(UPDATE: November rate is 7.4 percent.)

No matter the numbers, it’s still clear many Minnesota families know a story of job loss or job struggle. They see it in their homes and neighborhoods, among friends or families. Or it’s a first-person account.


“Many of my friends and I are recent college graduates and I know very few who have been able to get jobs in our desired fields, if we have been able to get jobs at all,” said Dorisa Nelson of St. Paul.

She’d like to intern in an architecture firm and work her way to becoming a licensed architect. But it’s a business that’s been hit particularly hard in this recession.

She’s doing part-time seasonal work at a retail store and likes it, but it will end soon.

We asked Minnesotans in MPR’s Public Insight Network recently to take their employment pulse: What’s the job climate like? Tell us about your job security or your job search.

Nelson and a couple dozen told us their stories. Click on the map icons below to read some of them. (You can add your voice here.)

Some, like Robyn Kunz of Crystal, said they were relatively secure. She runs the operations department for a background screening agency.

“I am lucky to be in an industry that is somewhat recession proof. I’m confident that our company will continue to grow over the next few years and that I will be a part of that growth.”

Others are still feeling the recession’s collateral damage.

Jim Dooley is a real estate broker in Apple Valley. He’s self-employed and secure but has seen a big drop in business in the suburbs.

I can see an even bigger drop in my real estate business as soon as the next round of stimulus ends in April. There was a big uptick in real estate closings in October and November because buyers thought the $8000 1st time home buyer program was going to end.

I do not see any signs that the job market is improving, only getting worse.

Kim Otterson is a farmer and farrier from Royalton. She shoes horses and trims their feet. Horses have become a luxury in this economy.

“The horse market is WAY down, both due to the economy in general and other factors. People are still taking care of their horses, but they are cutting back as much as they feel they can, to save money,” she said. “This affects how busy I am.”

Otterson said things will pick up for her in the spring (“they always do”) but she’s looking for part-time work to get her there.

While tomorrow’s jobless numbers might show a lower unemployment rate, she and others say that doesn’t necessarily mean things will get better fast.

“I feel that our unemployment isn’t accounted for in the unemployment numbers we hear about on the news/radio and because of this, the statistics are misleading,” Nelson said.” Whatever job growth there is in the numbers it is hard to see the change when so many of the people you know remain unemployed in various fields.”

We don’t just need jobs (in Minnesota),” Otterson said, “we need jobs that pay a wage people can thrive on. It’s pretty hard to raise a family flipping burgers.”

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