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Minnesota firms seek recruits earlier, adjust requirements due to tight labor market

Mike Hughlett, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Business News

Bolton & Menk, a civil engineering firm, will bring in 58 interns this summer -- a record number.

"It's a great opportunity for them," said Celeste Voss, the Mankato, Minn.-based company's talent acquisition specialist. "It is like a three-month job interview."

The healthy crop of interns also is a great opportunity for Bolton & Menk, which employs 420 in Minnesota and does myriad engineering and planning work throughout the Upper Midwest. The employee-owned company, which ranked 20th on the Star Tribune Top Workplaces list of midsized companies, is feeling the squeeze from a U.S. unemployment rate at a 50-year low.

The labor market "is tighter than it has ever been," Voss said.

Like Bolton & Menk, several midsize companies -- those with 150 to 499 employees -- surveyed by the Star Tribune reported that tight labor markets have been endemic the past few years. In response, they're all upping their recruiting game.

Minnesota employers are coping with a hot economy coupled with a workforce that is growing so slowly it's become a hindrance for hiring. Indeed, Steve Hine, a labor market analyst from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, noted this spring that the paucity of workers is keeping a lid on state job growth rates.

 

Still, midsize employers canvassed by the Star Tribune say that while they're feeling the labor pinch, their output has not been affected.

For some executives, though, the thought of a production squeeze has crossed their minds.

"We are definitely concerned about it," said Mark Gibbs, managing partner of Redpath and Co., an employee-owned St. Paul-based accounting firm that also has an office in White Bear Lake.

Redpath has 158 employees, and, like Bolton & Menk, it's growing. "We need more people generally and we are hiring at a record pace," Gibbs said.

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