Minnesota job openings up 15%

This reads like good news. The Forum papers’ story says: “Job vacancies in Minnesota climbed 15.1 percent in the second quarter of 2012 compared with the same period a year ago, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Employers reported nearly 63,000 openings during the quarter, up from 54,700 openings during the same period in 2011. Statewide, there were 2.6 unemployed people for each vacancy, compared with 3.6 unemployed people per vacancy during last year’s second quarter. ‘Job vacancies in the state have returned to levels that we haven’t seen since before the Great Recession,’, said DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips. ‘While finding work remains difficult for many people, the latest survey is a positive sign that the labor market is recovering.’ ” … But then there’s this … “Among other findings of the study:
• Forty-two percent of the openings were for part-time jobs (fewer than 35 hours per week).
Nineteen percent were for temporary or seasonal work.
Forty-four percent required some level of post-secondary education or training beyond a high school degree.
Forty percent required related work experience.
The median wage offer was $11.06 per hour.
Fifty-five percent offered health insurance.”

Speaking of “lavish” pay … The AP reports: “A Republican-led legislative panel has rejected new contracts for more than 27,000 Minnesota state employees. The Subcommittee on Employee Relations voted 6-4 on Thursday to reject the two-year contracts for the two largest state employee unions. Union members packed into a hearing room at the Capitol booed and jeered the vote. Republicans were unhappy that the contracts called for a 2 percent pay raise for state employees starting in January, and questioned whether health benefits were too generous.” Those unions really need to get down to $11.06 an hour.  

The new school ratings released today should be more informative, say Christopher Magan and MaryJo Webster at the PiPress: “Instead of labeling schools as failing, the focus turns to providing more complete data about student achievement so educators can work to turn around the most troubled schools. State education officials say the new Multiple Measurement Ratings, released Thursday, Aug. 30, will give teachers the information they need to cut the state’s achievement gap in half within six years. Minnesota has one of the largest gulfs in the nation between the achievement of poor or minority students and their white or more affluent counterparts. ‘The focus on achievement gaps has finally arrived,’ said Brenda Cassellius, the state education commissioner.”

At the Strib, Kara McGuire and Steve Brandt say: “All told, 213 schools are now labeled underperforming in some way, compared to more than 1,000 under No Child Left Behind. All are schools that receive federal Title I money to address higher levels of poverty. Those schools have to submit turnaround plans to the state, but unlike previous years, they no longer have to provide tutoring or transfers or face stricter penalties. … Statewide, minority and poor students and those learning English showed better academic growth in math scores in 2012 compared with 2011. The new data, however, indicate that Minnesota schools aren’t closing the achievement gap in reading.

The Glean To no one’s surprise, Tim Pugmire at MPR reports that legal challenges to the voting amendment — if passed in November — could carry on for years. “Supporters and opponents of the proposed requirement that all Minnesotans show photo identification at the polls say those potential lawsuits will only come if voters approve the amendment on Election Day. … Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, said he thinks there could still be a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Minnesota’s voter ID amendment once an election is held under the new requirements and once a voter gets turned away. ‘Their argument in the Indiana case was quite simple: ‘If you want to sue, bring us somebody who’s damaged, who’s been injured by this. They can sue. But if you haven’t been injured by this bill, you can’t sue,’  Samuelson said. ‘That’s the federal position in the Crawford case. So, that’s going to require the election to be held and somebody to be disenfranchised.’ ” And who will pay for all this litigation?
Thanks to Sally Jo Sorensen of Bluestem Prairie for tipping me to this one. Richard Crawford at The Chanhassen Villager writes: “At a meeting open to the public last week at a Waconia senior facility, [GOP Rep. Ernie] Leidiger admits to ‘standing up and challenging’ members of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Eastern Carver County over their presentation on the voter/photo ID constitutional amendment. LWV members’ assessment of Leidiger’s behavior wasn’t so kind. LWV members said Leidiger was ‘uncivil,’ loud and interrupted the presentation to about 25 people at Westview Acres. ‘He was loud, boisterous, argumentative and bullying,’ said Glenda Noble, an LWV member who helped arrange the presentation. ‘His manner and tone was not appropriate. We were guests in a facility that houses older people. The public is welcome, but we expect them to behave.’ … ‘What I heard was astounding,’ Leidiger said. ‘It was nothing but fear-mongering, lies, distortions, and made-up scenarios to frighten the elderly to vote against the amendment.’ … ‘the League appears to be nothing but a bunch of lap-dogs for (Secretary of State) Mark Ritchie and the Democrats. They are pathetic partisan hacks.’ ” … to put it civilly.

Given the past couple of years, it’s hard to believe our great and glorious neighbors to the east have a shortage of you-know-what to sling. At The Huffington Post, Carrie Antlfinger reports: “It’s very seldom someone talks about the quality and amount of cow dung, but in one southern Wisconsin city that’s all they’ve been talking about lately. The drought has caused a shortage of flattened, dried cow manure – or cow chips – for the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw and Festival, which attracts about 300 throwers and 40,000 spectators to Prairie du Sac, Wis. ‘This is my 24th throw, and it’s never been this difficult to find chips,’ said Marietta Reuter, who helps organize the festival that runs Friday and Saturday. … The men’s record was set in 1991 at 248 feet. The woman’s record is from 2005 at 157.5 feet, Reuter said. The festival will give the top finishers $200 each toward a trip to the World Championship Cow Chip Throw in Beaver, Okla., should they decide to go, Slotty said.” First prize is a trip to Oklahoma? What’s second prize?

A “re-hearing,” you say? Abby Simons of the Strib reports: “The judge who denied Amy Senser’s request to stay out of prison during her appeal must explain that decision, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ordered this week, sending that issue back to Hennepin County district court for a re-hearing. The order filed Tuesday says that District Judge Daniel Mabley ‘summarily’ denied a motion by Senser’s attorney that she remain free while she appeals her conviction of two counts of criminal vehicular homicide. Senser has been incarcerated since July 9, when she was sentenced to 41 months in prison for the hit-and-run death of Anousone Phanthavong.”

And with a smaller carbon footprint … Mary Divine of the PiPress says: “The unofficial results from the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah are in, and it looks like Kevin Clemens has set a new world record for electric motorcycles. Clemens, who lives in Lake Elmo, hit 78.4 mph on Tuesday, Aug. 28. … Last year, Clemens set the national land-speed record for electric motorcycles — 61.538 mph — at Bonneville. … ‘Riding across the salt flats on a racing motorcycle is different from almost any other experience,’ he wrote. ‘Almost nowhere else on the planet can you place your body on your motorcycle in a deep aerodynamic tuck, put your helmet down so that you are peeking over the handlebars, and twist the throttle wide open for 5 or 10 continuous miles. The salt surface rushes past beneath your wheels, with an electric motorcycle you hear only wind noise and the crunching of the salt surface, and all too quickly it is over. The feeling is both satisfying and exhilarating, and most people who experience it once can’t resist coming back year after year for more.’ ” I beat that in a rental car one time. But that’s a whole different story.

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Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/30/2012 - 02:12 pm.

    Health benefits are “too generous”

    How about FREE? Is that generous enough for you?

    “Individuals on the state employee health plan have their entire premium covered by the state … families pay roughly $130 monthly in premium costs, according to Minnesota Management and Budget.”


    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/30/2012 - 02:53 pm.


      The piece you quote (which is itself dissecting an opinion piece by two Republican legislators) goes on to make the following point:

      “However, it’s important to note that state employees do pay for their co-pays on prescription drugs and doctor’s visits, and their deductibles. In fact, the contracts agree to an increase in those out-of-pocket costs.”

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/30/2012 - 06:52 pm.

        So does everybody else

        I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have to pay co-pays. That’s like saying, “yeah, but they have to pay to park.”

    • Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/30/2012 - 03:45 pm.

      Cherry picking is wrong

      whichever side of the argument you’re on.

      “That statement is correct, but deserves some context.” Click on Mr. Tester’s link for the balance of the discussion.

      Yes, state employees and their families, if family coverage is selected, do have a great medical and dental plan. Here’s mine, under HealthPartners:

      “Coverage Level Prescription Drugs are carved out to Navitus – 1-866-333-2757.

      Implantable and injectable birth control drugs and devices – 20% coinsurance.
      Deductible Annual Deductible:

      Single: $50
      Family: $100

      The highest cost level in which any family member incurs expenses determines the amount of the family annual deductible at the time of service.

      The family Deductible is the maximum amount that a family has to pay in Deductibles expenses in any one Calendar year. The family Deductible is not the amount of expenses a family must incur before any family Member can receive benefits. Individual family Members only need to satisfy their individual Deductibles once to be eligible for benefits. Once the family Deductible has been met, Deductibles expenses for the family are waived for the balance of the year.
      Lifetime Maximum Lifetime Maximum – Unlimited.
      Out-Of-Pocket Out-of-Pocket Maximum for services other than Prescription Drugs per year:

      Single – $1100
      Family – $2200

      The Out-of-Pocket Maximum for Other Services is a per year maximum, and applies across all cost levels.”

      Office visit co-pays are currently $17 and prescription drug co-pays (for drugs in the HP formulary) are $16.

      I don’t have my wife’s current pay stub available, but in 2010 she paid a total of $1,966.40 for medical and dental insurance premiums, a bit more than $160 a month. The state paid $14,795.08 for that coverage, or about 89% of the total premium. Under the recently rejected contract, state employees’ contributions would have increased, although the MPR piece doesn’t say how much.

      So what? Is this benefit more generous than many private employers provide? Absolutely. But if you want to compare compensation between public and private sectors, you can’t do it piecemeal, as some would prefer. Lay it all out, not in general terms but job by job and let’s see where we stand on total compensation packages. Then, I’d suggest that those employed in the private sector who feel that they are being shortchanged do something about improving their positions. They might even consider collective bargaining.

      • Submitted by Pete Barrett on 08/30/2012 - 06:00 pm.

        And More Than That

        Comparisons should also be made profession by profession, not average public sector worker vs. average private sector worker. Public sector workers are more likely to have bachelors degrees.

        I can tell you that if went to work for the State I’d be taking a significant pay cut. And while it is difficult to compare fringes, I have every reason to think I’d be taking cut there too, pension and health care included.

    • Submitted by Robert Henderson on 08/30/2012 - 08:11 pm.

      Nothing is free

      Even if the plan is “free” to the employees it is a really a portion of the employee cost to the enterpirse. Ttypically if employees receive a benefit, they receive less in pay. In reality the benefit is just part of the compensation. It’s not free to the employer or the employee.

      I wonder, how much does Mr. Tester pay for his employee health plan? If it’s not full market rate, what an individual would pay, is it then free? or subsidized? or does he earn it through his labor for his employer?

  2. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/30/2012 - 03:41 pm.

    State contracts

    Disapproving the state employee contracts is a transparent political stunt. The Republicans can kvell about standing up to the cursed unions and protecting the taxpayers. There is no risk of a shutdown happening before the election, since the contracts are not up until January. Under the Republican doctrine of Pawlentyism, the problem is thus left for someone else to handle. Whatever happens won’t be their fault.

    Such inspiring leadership.

  3. Submitted by Tim Walker on 08/30/2012 - 02:45 pm.


    Whether an electric vehicle has a smaller carbon footprint depends on the ultimate source of the electricity that charges the vehicle’s batteries.

    If the electricity was produced by solar, wind, hydro, natural gas, or nuclear energy, then yes, it has a smaller carbon footprint.

    But chances are very good that the electricity was generated by burning coal, which has a huge carbon footprint.

    Look, I love my electric lawn mower because it’s quieter than a gas-powered one, and I don’t need to tune it up every season. But I’m under no illusion that I’m being “green” when I’m using it.

    Anyway, I hit 105 mph on my gas-burning Honda 750 Nighthawk motorcycle on southbound I-35 last Sunday returning from northern Wisconsin. Granted, it wasn’t for 5-10 continuous miles, but it was quite a rush regardless!

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 08/30/2012 - 03:59 pm.

    One can’t help but wonder…

    …what level or degree of poverty Mr. Tester feels would be appropriate for state employees.

  5. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/30/2012 - 04:48 pm.

    Disgruntled state union members

    can always threaten to go on strike…everyone remembers the last time they did that the state came to a *complete* standstill….

  6. Submitted by Scott Peterson on 08/30/2012 - 05:30 pm.

    paid like the private sector

    I think it would be great if public workers were paid like the private sector – commissioners of state agencies make about $100,000 a year and manage billion dollar organizations. In the private sector they would make at least a million, probably more. Of course commissioners do get those “free” health insurance benefits.

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