Coming Up Short
By Dave Senf - firstname.lastname@example.org
PDF of article
Minnesota ranks high in a number of labor force categories, but not when it comes to average hours worked per week by private sector employees.
When it comes to working, Minnesotans are an impressive group by many labor force measures. For example, Minnesota was among the national leaders in 2009 in the following categories:
- Ninth in male labor force participation rate
- Sixth in female labor force participation rate
- Fifth in total labor force participation rate
- Sixth in employment-to-population ratio 1]
Minnesotans not only rank high when it comes to joining the labor force and being employed, but they are also near the top in moonlighting. Only South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska had a higher percentage of people with multiple jobs than Minnesota (9 percent) in 2009
The solid work habits of Minnesota’s workforce last year shouldn’t surprise readers of this publication since articles about Minnesota’s high labor force standings have regularly appeared in Trends But recent data put a dent in Minnesota’s reputation in one labor force category. When it comes to the average number of hours worked each week, Minnesota’s private sector employees rank near the bottom nationally, finishing 41st in 2007, 44th in 2008, and 46th in 2009
These findings are based on additional data—total all-employee average weekly hours for Minnesota’s private sector and all-employee hours for eight of the state’s 10 private supersectors—that have been added to the monthly Current Employment Statistics survey. Mining and Information are the only supersectors not covered in the survey, owing to sample size restrictions.
The new data in this series, going back to January 2007, provide a much more comprehensive picture of how long Minnesotans toil at their jobs than the limited series of average weekly hours previously available. The new hours data cover about 97 percent of all private wage and salary employment, a major step up from the 52 percent covered by the old data, which were limited to production workers.
On average, Minnesota’s private sector employees worked about 45 minutes less each week than private sector employees nationwide in 2007. Minnesota’s average workweek was about an hour shorter than the national average workweek in 2008 and just over one hour and 15 minutes less in 2009. Through the first half of 2010, the estimated average workweek for Minnesota workers was 32.8 hours compared with the U.S. average of 34 hours, or about one hour and 12 minutes shorter.
The average workweek in the Minnesota and U.S. private sectors are compared in Figure 1 for total private industry (all-employee), total private goods-producing, total private service-producing and eight supersectors. ]
Click here for larger image
The variation in average weekly hours among the supersectors is striking at first glance but consistent once the pattern of part-time work across supersectors is considered. Minnesota’s shorter average workweek appears to be due in large part to shorter workweeks for workers in trade, transportation, utilities; education and health services; leisure and hospitality; and other services.
Explaining why Minnesota workers in these supersectors have average workweeks significantly shorter than their national counterparts will have to be researched further. The initial research step, though, will be to keep an eye on future monthly estimates to see if the gap persists and to determine the reliability of the data. The huge variance in average workweek exhibited in the other services supersector is especially perplexing.
Another factor in the state’s shorter workweek might be its industrial mix. Economies that have high concentrations of industries with high average weekly hours will have higher all-employee average hours. The role that industry mix plays in determining a region’s all-employee average workweek is displayed in Figure 2, which shows the average weekly hours in 2009 for select metro areas. The metro areas with high average weekly hours tend to have economies that have a high percentage of employment in goods-producing sectors. Workers in goods-producing jobs nationally worked 17 percent longer each week than service-producing workers in 2009.
The Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux metro area on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast is fairly well-known to Americans because of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform explosion. The area has more than 6,000 mining jobs, accounting for more than 7 percent of private wage and salary employment. That is 10 times the share of employment in mining nationally. The high average weekly hours of oil rig workers lift the area’s workweek length to the front of the pack. The high average weekly hours in nearby Pascagoula, Miss., can be traced to a major shipbuilding yard and one of the nation’s largest oil refineries.
El Centro, Calif., and Fond du Lac, Wis., are at the other end of the average weekly hours range. El Centro is an agricultural trade center with minimal goods-producing employment (the CES survey doesn’t cover agricultural production employment). Fond du Lac’s low average weekly hours appear to be the result of disproportionately low employment numbers in the professional and business services and financial activities sectors, including bankers, lawyers, accountants and engineers. In Minnesota, the St. Cloud and Mankato economies are more heavily dependent on goods-producing industries than the state’s other metro areas, while Rochester’s education and health services concentration is one of the highest in the country.
The new all-employee hours data along with average hourly earnings will be helpful in analyzing the twist and turns of Minnesota’s economy. Changes in average weekly hours might help anticipate shifts in the pace of job growth. Tracking average weekly hours in the private sector in order to guesstimate the direction of wage and salary income might also be beneficial. Hours worked multiplied by number of jobs multiplied by average hourly pay might provide a useful real time estimate of total private pay. Private sector paychecks accounted for 85 percent of nonfarm wage and salary payments in 2009, so any signs that private paychecks are getting fatter in Minnesota might be a harbinger of better job growth.
1] Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment, 2009, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov/lau/table14full09.pdf.
] Monthly Labor Review, July 2010, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2010/07/art4full.pdf.
3] “Hardest-Working Metro Area,” Minnesota Economic Trends, September 2000; “Why Are So Many Women Working?” Minnesota Economic Trends, December 2000/January 2001; “Labor Force Participation Rates in Minnesota,” Minnesota Economic Trends, December 2002/ January 2003; “Minnesota’s Hard-Working Youth,” Minnesota Economic Trends, January 2004; and “Moonlighting In Minnesota,” Minnesota Economic Trends, April 2006.
4] More information on the expanded availability of average weekly hours and average hourly earnings from the CES survey is available at “Changes in Current Employment Statistics,” Minnesota Economic Trends, June 2010, and “All-employee hours and earnings for states and metropolitan areas,” Monthly Labor Review, March 2010, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
5] Average weekly hours for Minnesota can be downloaded at www.positivelyminnesota.com/apps/lmi/ces/. Hours data for all states, metro areas and the country are available atwww.bls.gov/sae/.