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Labor shortage could last longer than this year, recruiters, business leaders say

Fewer high school graduates, coupled with older workers retiring, could contribute to a longer shortage.

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About 18,000 jobs opened up in North Dakota in May 2021, while 12,000 opened in Minnesota. However, business leaders say there's more openings than active applicants. WDAY file photo

FARGO — If you take a look around businesses in Fargo, Moorhead, Grand Forks, Bismarck and across the nation, signs advertising jobs and bonus incentives are everywhere.

But, despite the influx of openings, business leaders said there are few resumes floating around.

"It's a numbers game," said Mason Rademacher, the vice president of workforce and talent for the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce. "We don't have enough people to even fill all of the open jobs that we currently have."

The latest openings report from North Dakota Job Service shows the state added nearly 18,000 jobs in May of this year, while Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development said its state added just over 12,000 jobs.

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David Dietz, the president and CEO of Preference Employment Solutions in Fargo, said he's been busy trying to find work for people, after North Dakota's extra unemployment benefits expired Saturday, June 19, and Minnesota's being set to expire in September.

"We have noticed a little bit of an uptick actually, as there's been some people on unemployment insurance that are now beginning to look for work," he said.

While recruiters say they're focusing on getting people jobs now, they're also keeping the future in mind.

A study by the group "Knocking at the College Door" shows a projected steady decline of high school graduates across the country starting in 2026, which is based on America's birth rate since the Great Recession in 2008.

Dietz said that, plus older people leaving the workforce, could keep the labor shortage in place for longer.

"There's more of those (older workers) to retire in the years to come, so it seems like we're positioned for a relatively good labor shortage for a long time," he said.

This is one of the reasons why Rademacher is encouraging businesses to give more opportunities like job shadows and internships to up-and-comers.

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"This next generation of talent that we're all going to be actively recruiting for is hungry for engagement opportunities from the business community," Rademacher said.

Rademacher added these next five years will be important, as people work to get the economy back on track.

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