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These comments are responses to the statements listed below,
which were generated in regard to the 
Susan Brower  Interview of
11-07-2014.

Minnesota must address trained worker shortage

OVERVIEW

Looking into the future, Minnesota will have a slower rate of labor-force growth than it has currently until at least 2045, according to State Demographer Susan Brower. This points to the need for a major policy focus on continued investment in human capital in the state, she says. Over the next 10 years, there will be an actual decline in labor-force members aged 16 to 64, because of the large numbers of baby boomers retiring and lower birth rates, meaning fewer younger people to replace the retirees. Historically, on net, she points out that Minnesota loses people to other states. Because of this deficit in domestic migration, Minnesota's population grows now only because of international immigration. In fact, Minnesota is stronger on international in-migration than a number of its peer states, because of our higher concentration of jobs in higher-skilled industries and our active history of refugee resettlement.

Brower notes that real GDP growth is a function of growth in three areas: (1) the working-age population, (2) labor-force utilization and (3) labor-force productivity. Perhaps, she says, we might be able to influence growth in the working-age population by doing a better job of attracting and retaining people in Minnesota. But many other states are in the same position, so the market is tight. To influence labor-force utilization growth, she believes we must come up with new ways to bring every last person in Minnesota who can and wants to work into the labor force. She asserts that the greatest potential for impacting the state's future economic trajectory is through labor-productivity growth: making things more efficiently or making things of greater value, usually done by higher-skilled and highly educated members of the workforce.

For the complete interview summary see: Brower interview

Response Summary: Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readersí zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

To assist the Civic Caucus in planning upcoming interviews, readers rated these statements about the topic on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

1. Topic is of value. (8.3 average response) The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

2. Further study warranted. (7.8 average response) It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

Readers rated the following points discussed during the meeting on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

3. Economy threatened by worker shortage. (7.8 average response) Minnesota's future economic strength is seriously threatened by a demographically induced shortage of qualified workers as retiring workers will greatly outnumber the younger people available to replace them.

4. Unprecedented action required. (8.1 average response) Combating the shortage will require unprecedented measures on a broad front, as the problem will only worsen if action is deferred.

5. Put to work all who are employable. (8.8 average response) It is important to strengthen efforts to employ every person who can work and wants to work, including parents of young children, people with disabilities and people of color left behind by the job market.

6. Improve skills and job prospects. (8.1 average response) It is important to invest more in improving the skills of large numbers of undereducated and underemployed residents

7. Boost immigration. (6.2 average response) It is important to boost immigration from other countries, historically a vital source of human capital.

8. Boost migration from other states. (6.8 average response) It is important to spur migration to Minnesota from other states to rectify the current net loss of human capital through out-migration.

9. Do more to retain older workers. (6.6 average response) It is important to develop incentives to retain older workers now attracted by warmer climates.

 

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Topic is of value.

0%

0%

17%

58%

25%

12

2. Further study warranted.

0%

0%

25%

50%

25%

12

3. Economy threatened by worker shortage.

8%

0%

8%

54%

31%

13

4. Unprecedented action required.

8%

0%

0%

58%

33%

12

5. Put to work all who are employable.

8%

0%

0%

31%

62%

13

6. Improve skills and job prospects.

8%

0%

8%

23%

62%

13

7. Boost immigration.

15%

0%

8%

69%

8%

13

8. Boost migration from other states.

8%

17%

0%

50%

25%

12

9. Do more to retain older workers.

15%

0%

8%

54%

23%

13

Individual Responses:

Ray Ayotte  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Don Anderson  (5)  (5)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (5)

5. Put to work all who are employable. That means improving skills and other conditions for people not able to find employment in today's job market.

7. Boost immigration. Our nation was originally populated by immigration from European countries. Today, we have to increase immigration from other areas of the world.

Kevin Edberg  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)

9. Do more to retain older workers. Iím not so sure on the need for incentives, though I agree on the need to retain.  I have a suspicion that many older workers will need to continue working, at least part time, as a means to their economic livelihood.

Chris Wright  (5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (0)  (2.5)  (10)

6. Improve skills and job prospects. It is important for employers to invest more, but don't like to spend money to train their employees and expect the burden to be put on the state and students to pick up the tab. Employers who spend less and less for on-the-job training and have the temerity to complain that employees coming out of trade school and college are not meeting job requirements is shameful. Once again, the companies who have benefited and prospered in our state have no allegiance to the state or the people, only to profits. While employers spend less on training, students are targeting their college training for employment and the state is spending unprecedented amounts on education. In addition, the soaring cost of higher education, with its over-bloated ratio of administration to students with outrageous benefits and salaries, doesn't help. And let's not forget that higher education is free in Europe and Australia, but here in America and Minnesota only the privileged and those willing to go into indentured servitude to [banks] for the rest of their working lives can get higher education.

Laura Gilbert  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (5)  (5)  (2.5)  (0)

2. Further study warranted. She hits on many of the interconnecting points.  It may be worth an annual update about her data.

 3. Economy threatened by worker shortage. Something I haven't seen addressed much is the level of match between positions being vacated by retirees and new positions being created.  From an HR perspective, it is not uncommon for an organization to reevaluate needs when a long-term employee retires.  It is also not uncommon to keep hold of a near-retirement employee whose position has become outdated rather than risk age discrimination claims by letting him or her go in favor of a (younger) worker with contemporary skills.  Consequently, I'm not convinced the threat of worker shortage is as significant as the threat of having individuals with the right skills.

5. Put to work all who are employable. In my role I have a bit of exposure to the challenges surrounding implementation of Governor Dayton's Executive Order 14-14, which seeks to increase the percent of individuals in State of MN positions to 10% by 2018.    Adding Brower's broad-brush definition of "every person who can work and wants to work" suggests the need for expanded ways of doing work and being employed.  Specifically, what new models might we create to address each step in the lifecycle of employment, from job announcement through retirement?  What can work and what makes business sense?  This will be an incredibly important and exciting field of study over the next 2-3 decades.

6. Improve skills and job prospects. First we need to identify what skills are likely to last long enough to justify the training, particularly if the individual must select and pay for the training him- or herself.  Rather than focus on potentially short-lived technical skills, it would be interesting to see if Brower or her former colleagues from Wilder have done any longitudinal studies with two groups of "undereducated and underemployed residents"...taking one set of individuals through targeted technical training and another through targeted basic skills training (reading for understanding, basic writing, basic math, basic analysis and data interpretation). Over time such work might help inform what skills are the best investments for this particular population.

7. Boost immigration. Do we need more immigrants or do we need to do more to support, embrace, educate and encourage those we have?

9. Do more to retain older workers. In order to move forward as creatively and rapidly as necessary, it is important to finally give Gen X the leadership opportunities Baby Boomers had long held by their age.  Without those opportunities to continue to learn and develop in skill and confidence, future generations will stumble.  At the same time I would definitely support retaining older workers in advisory or mentoring roles.

Ted Kolderie  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

I looked yesterday at an article I'd clipped from some magazine. [The article was written] by one of the business reporters for public radio. It mainly presented the complaint about "can't get skilled workers" from an employer in Milwaukee, who was offering the jobs at $10 an hour.

The point, of course: You don't enlarge the market for skilled workers by paying $10 an hour. Not when McDonalds is paying $14/hour for a store manager.

The article did get around to discussing why an employer in Milwaukee is offering $10 an hour. The products his firm manufactures have to be sold in a market [competing] against firms in China, or wherever, that are paying their workers less than $10 an hour.

So it matters what market you're in. Plumbers' scale here is $80 an hour. Minnesota plumbers don't compete against Chinese plumbers.

Net: Would it be useful, when you hear this complaint about 'Can't get skilled workers', to ask: How much are you paying?

Ervin Pribyl  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

If welfare were not as great as it is in Minnesota, a lot of people we know would have to leave their full time welfare-collecting job and get a real one. People on welfare make more on welfare than a lot of people who are hard working citizens. [They] are not paying any taxes at all and therefore the people who pay high taxes are making less money to support the welfare [recipients].  Some are justified but most are not.

Bright Dornblaser  (10)  (5)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (8)  (6)  (6)

Wayne Jennings  (9)  (9)  (8)  (8)  (9)  (10)  (6)  (8)  (8)

Vital information, if accurate. Economists have said the most important factor for growth is education. We must ensure that job training is available and effective. It starts also with strong schools that donít have dropouts and disengaged students.

Chuck Lutz  (9)  (8)  (8)  (9)  (10)  (8)  (8)  (9)  (9)

David Alley  (9)  (9)  (5)  (9)  (8)  (6)  (7)  (na)  (10)

Roger Wacek  (na)  (na)  (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)

Minnesota's future economy is seriously [threatened] by 'PEAK OIL', as in $15 billion leaving the state every year for energy.

Tom Spitznagle  (7)  (5)  (9)  (9)  (8)  (6)  (8)  (7)  (6)

David Detert  (9)  (7)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (6)  (9)  (8)

Paul Hauge  (9)  (10)  (9)  (na)  (9)  (10)  (8)  (8)  (6)

    

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (executive director), Dwight Johnson, Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
 Dan Loritz (chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman


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The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.  civiccaucus@comcast.net
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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