UNDATED - When it comes to more jobs, here in central Minnesota we're expected to grow faster than any other region in the state. Luke Greiner is a job analyst with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. He says the central region of the state is projected to add over 23,338 new jobs in the next seven years.

He says a lot of that growth will happen in the corridor between St. Cloud and the Twin Cities.

So things that are allowing us to grow is that urban sprawl. There's a lot of younger communities kind of bordering the Twin Cities in the suburban areas.  We see a lot of population growth there.  As companies expand that is a key piece.

Greiner says an aging population will drive most of that growth.

The bulk of it is going to be in health care and social assistance. That's where we expect a third or close to half of this growth, about 10,487 new jobs.  Other industries we expect growth is retail trade with 2,400 new jobs, construction we expect a fair boost, and also administrative support.

Greiner says industries in central Minnesota that are expected to see a decline in jobs include: agriculture, mining, education, and manufacturing.

However, he says the biggest hurdle employers will have to overcome is finding people to fill all those openings.

It's going to be a struggle trying to hire people moving forward as our labor force slows.  So the struggle is happening now, and it's probably going to get worse.  It's going to take more creative plans and strategies to retain workers who are planning for retirement.

Greiner says employers will probably need to increase wages, and find other ways to lure workers from other companies. He says right now there are 1.4 unemployed workers for every job opening in central Minnesota. By comparison, there was seven unemployed workers for every opening during the height of the recession.

Besides central Minnesota's over 23,338 new jobs, the Twin Cities is expected to add nearly 80,000 jobs, southeastern Minnesota over 12,000, the northwestern part of the state over 9,000, northeast Minnesota over 3,000, and the southwest region a little over 2,000.

By percentage, Greiner says central Minnesota will have a 7.7 percent increase, southeastern Minnesota will grow by 4.5 percent, and the Twin Cities at 4.4 percent. The slowest job growth will be in southwest Minnesota with only a one percent increase.

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