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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - A new report shows the number of job vacancies in Minnesota at the end of last year shattered the previous record set several years ago.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development says job vacancies in the fourth quarter of 2021 exceeded 214,000. That was up 68-percent when compared to the final three months of 2020 and was 56-percent above the prior fourth quarter peak in 2018.

State officials note the number of job openings is higher even though the number of unemployed people in Minnesota continues to decline. The report also notes Minnesota's labor force participation rate is significantly above the national average at 68.3-percent, although it remains below the participation rate prior to the COVID pandemic. It was as high as 70.8-percent in February 2020.

The news release issued today by the state agency indicates there were fewer than 93,000 unemployed workers throughout Minnesota in the final three months of last year. That equates to .4 persons for each job vacancy, which is the lowest that ratio has ever been. A year ago, there were 1.1 unemployed persons for each open job.

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The worker shortage is pushing wages higher. The new report says the median wage offer rose to more than $18 per hour in the fourth quarter of last year. That was up 9-percent when compared to the end of 2020. That increase more than kept up with inflation, with the Consumer Price Index rising 6.7-percent during that 12-month time span.