Minnesota’s Vanishing Workforce

Understanding Minnesota’s Demographic Drought and the Strategies to Mitigate It


Ask the leader of any business, regardless of industry or size, to name the biggest challenge facing their business today, and they’re likely to cite difficulty finding enough workers.

In partnership with Presbyterian Homes and Services, The Minnesota Business Partnership, and SullivanCotter, Lightcast’s experienced labor economists set out to reveal the demographic changes that have begun to reshape the workforce in Minnesota. In this report, we aim to inform employers, educators, and public policy officials on the causes of Minnesota's Demographic Drought and to present opportunities for working together to mitigate the people shortage problem across the nation.

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How did we get here?

Across the US, populations are aging, and talent pools are shrinking. Minnesota is no exception. The state’s 12,000 lakes will be no match for the impending Demographic Drought brought about by declining fertility rates, an aging population, rising retirements, and falling net migration.

population growth in MN

Where are we now?

Minnesota is struggling more than nearly all other states. In June 2023, Minnesota was still 11,500 jobs below it's pre-pandemic level while national employment had already more

than recovered. The gap between Minnesota and the US is widening.

Minnesota compared to other states

Where are we headed?

Problems are likely to get worse: By 2030, all Baby Boomers will be at least 65 and the share of the Minnesotan population that is of working age (16-64) will crater to a historic low creating a labor crisis marked by talent shortages, lower employment gains, and potentially lower economic growth.

working age population in MN

How do we move forward?

Mitigating the economic impact of Minnesota’s Demographic Drought will require partnerships between government, businesses, and educators. Deploying tactics to boost labor force participation, expanding the labor pool through immigration, and investing in new technologies and business models can help offset the impact of a shrinking labor supply.

Download the full report to learn the five key workforce strategies for both widening talent pools and making workers more productive.

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