Focus on job creation this year

Our state’s unemployment rating is low in comparison to the rest of the country, but we can do better.

by Keelia Moeller

This February, Minnesota’s unemployment rate remained well below the national average of 4.9 percent, holding steady at 3.7 percent. 
Minnesota’s success story is largely due to the state’s many health and education services, which generated 4,900 jobs just last month. Other fields made large contributions to the job market as well — transportation and utilities generated 3,600 jobs, for example. 
Our current unemployment rate is a very ideal number, and Minnesota should be proud. But when it comes to wages, there’s still room for improvement. 
According to economist Steve Hine, wage increases are not dramatic enough to create any “significant real gains” when it comes to paychecks. 
Moreover, while Minnesota ranks 11th in the nation for median household income, this ranking makes it easy to ignore the fact that median household income has actually declined by 9.5 percent in the past 10 years. 
We need to be careful not to let high rankings mislead us into feeling complacent. Although it’s true that Minnesota’s unemployment is ideal, there still remains the issue that 3.7 percent of our state is unable to find work. 
Furthermore, our state has not had enough significant wage gains. Considering the decline in median household income, this is something we need to improve. 
By focusing more on the areas of service that create more jobs — including education, health and construction — and advocating for wage gains in those fields, we can continue our good work and make more progress toward being one of the country’s strongest economies.
Keelia Moeller welcomes comments at [email protected].