Recession aside, Twin Cities jobs promising

Experts and charts say the metro area is an oasis for recent graduates.

Jessie Bekker

Ryan Prowizor began his job in the Twin Cities suburbs while he was still pursuing his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota.

The Carlson School of Management graduate, who graduated in the spring, said he got the job offer after an internship during his undergraduate career. Now, he’s employed full time at Wells Fargo in Edina.

Prowizor’s experience isn’t uncommon. Job prospects in the Twin Cities area are promising for young professionals and rank relatively high compared to other metropolitan areas in the country.

Last month, Forbes magazine ranked the Twin Cities area as No. 10 on the list of the 15 best cities for 24- to 34-year-old college graduates, a ranking that experts attribute to excellent economic marks despite the recent recession.

“The interesting thing about Minneapolis-St. Paul is that it has extremely good economic measures on many fronts,” said Ann Markusen, Humphrey School of Public Affairs professor emerita and director of the Project on Regional and Industrial Economics. “I’m surprised they didn’t rank [the area] higher.”

Forbes based its ranking on seven factors, including unemployment rates and median salaries for 24- to 34-year-old employed college graduates.

The national unemployment rate totaled 6.2 percent in July, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the Minneapolis area boasted a figure of just 4.2 percent.

Other parts of the country seem to have sluggish economies, said Mark Brinda, Minneapolis’ manager for workforce development.

“There just seems to be backlog in other parts of the country,” he said.

Minnesota avoided an economic dive during the recent recession in 2008 by awarding few loans and evading corruption in its banking systems, Markusen said, adding that she believes Minneapolis has high economic prospects.

Today, more employees are retiring, Brinda said, providing many new job options for graduates that weren’t available during the recession.

“That opens up a whole other layer of the labor force,” he said.

This isn’t the first time the region has topped Forbes’ charts. The publication released a similar ranking in 2011, with the Twin Cities coming in at 10th. In both years, the Des Moines, Iowa, area came in first and Raleigh, N.C., came in second.

Markusen said migration — young professionals leaving the Minneapolis metro area for trendier cities — could also play an important role in the changing job market.

Even though many young professionals are arriving in Minneapolis and seeking employment, even more are leaving, she said.

Markusen said she cannot explain the phenomenon but theorizes it’s due to the perception that cities on the coasts are more “fashionable.”

Still, Brinda is optimistic that Minneapolis’ economy will grow if companies seek employees beyond the confines of the city.

Markusen agreed, saying that Minneapolis companies could do more to reach young professionals outside the area.

“There isn’t a concerted campaign, and I think that’s the problem,” she said. “We’re just too modest.”