Dee DePass has been a Star Tribune business reporter since 1993, covering small business, financial institutions, manufacturing and, most recently, the economy. Originally from New York, Dee came to Minnesota after earning her master's in journalism at the University of Maryland and her undergraduate degree at Vassar College.

Posts about Employment

Minnesota green job openings bear fruit

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: January 20, 2012 - 2:01 PM

Demand for Minnesota "green" workers reached 2.5 percent of all job openings as of June 2011, according to a recently released two-year study funded by the U.S. Department of Labor as part of Obama's jobs recovery act.

Among the study's key findings on green job-openings:

* There were 3,882 openings between fourth quarter 2009 and June 2011

*  263 mostly private companies offered environmental, energy conservation and other green jobs across the state. 

* largest number of  job offerings were found in energy-efficiency improvements, pollution controls, recycling, conservation, wind energy, biofuel and waste energy, battery storage and the geothermal and solar sectors.

* Job openings touched 150 occupations, including installation, maintenance, repair, architecture, engineering, construction and management jobs.

* Half of the openings were in the Twin Cities

* 89 percent were full-time positions

* Green jobs demanded higher education

* Green jobs paid more than other jobs ($16 to $39 an hour vs $15 to $37)

For the full report, go to

Job experts suggest a well honed resolution for the 2012 workplace

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: January 3, 2012 - 3:06 PM

Forget about that New Year resolution to lose weight.

What you really need is a resolution to keep your job, say job placement experts who insist that 2012 will be a pivotal year.

This is the year that "Employers are definitely turning their attention toward retention and recruiting," said John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement employment giant Challenger, Gray and Christmas. 

While greater focus on employee retention is welcome news, employees shouldn’t relax.

 "Companies are concerned about losing talented workers, but they also know that the labor pool is full of willing and able candidates. So if you have a job, your workplace resolutions should be focused on keeping it as well as putting yourself in a position for a possible salary increase or promotion," Challenger said. "Those who want to keep or improve their positions in the new year are not going to do so by flying under the radar."

The problem is that no one knows for sure on which side of the economic sea-saw of employment they will land.
Recent employer surveys from manufacturing associations and the Federal Reserve Bank suggest employers are finally in the mood to hire. But economists say the European debt crisis, weak U.S. housing markets and government spending cuts could bring disaster to the jobs front.

So, job keepers and job hunters need to be resolute and aggressive, job coaches say.

For those looking to keep their jobs, Challenger offers these resolutions:

  • Seek more responsibility
  • Meet your boss's boss
  • Set deadlines for your resolutions
  • Join a company committee
  • Find or become a mentor
  • Align your career objectives with your company's goals
  • Find ways to save your company money
  • Become an expert on one aspect of your field.

Hope to nab a new job this year?
Here are resolution ideas from the state, business strategy firm Significant Solutions Inc. and Challenger, Gray and Christmas:

  • Remain positive
  • Join LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter
  • Volunteer / Join a community service group
  • Join a professional trade association
  • Meet 10 new people in your field
  • Rev up your skills
  • Conduct mock interviews
  • Stay in touch. Send New Year’s cards to your contacts
  • Visit one of the state's 46 Minnesota Workforce Centers 

Workers enter 2012 unenthused and looking for change

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: December 5, 2011 - 4:32 PM

Workers are less committed and less satisfied today than they were five years ago, according to a new survey by the employment benefits gurus at Mercer.

The discontent seems to stem partly from the economy and employer mandates that have fewer workers doing much more with less pay and stability. The fall out apparently is measurable, Mercer officials said.

According to the survey, the most disgruntled workers reported being ready to bolt and greatly dissatisfied with their benefit packages, type of work,available training opportunities and compensation.

"Engagement today is at historic low levels and employees are not happy with the current deal, said Pete Foley, Mercer's Employee Research Leader for North America. "Employees are reacting to actions taken during the economic downturn, such as cuts in pay, benefits, training and promotions and increased workloads due to layoffs."

Foley suggests that employers assess employee engagement levels within their firms to determine which workers are at risk of leaving.

Key results from the survey found that those most likely to be "so outta here" tend to be:

  • Male - 34 percent men, vs 30 percent women.
  • Young -  44 percent were between the ages of 16 and 24 while  40 percent were  between the ages of 25-34.
  • In management - 37 percent vs 30 percent
  • From select industries: high technology, retail/leisure; media/telecom; professional services; transportation/shipping; and financial services. 

Forecast for October job creation is chilling

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: October 31, 2011 - 11:38 AM

Economic research firm IHS Global Insight forecasts that Friday's upcoming job report will show that employers added just 75,000 jobs in October. If accurate, that's not enough to keep pace with the number of new entrants into the work a day world, much less bail the nation out of its economic doldrums.
Economists say the nation needs to create about 300,000 jobs each month in order for the country to return to pre-recession employment levels. So 75,000 jobs just won't cut it.

Currently 14 million Americans are unemployed. Another 12 million are estimated to be too discouraged to look for work or are underemployed, meaning that they are working part time jobs because they can't find full time work.

In their report, IHS economists said they expect October's unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 9.1 percent.

They expect that private employers created 100,000 jobs during the month, but predicted that the government shed 25,000 jobs in October. That net 75,000 job creation figure compares with 103,000 job gains in September.

September's bump is largely due to the end of a strike at Verizon, which restored 45,000 workers to the ranks of the employed. 


Green Jobs earn their paycheck

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: October 19, 2011 - 5:13 PM

Whacking emissions, installing solar panels and erecting windmills are not just good for the earth, they're  good for American paychecks, according to a new top 10 list issued Wednesday by The Green Collar Association and The Center for American Progress.

The list attempts to show just how vital green jobs are to the economy and to possibly slashing the nation's 9.1 percent unemployment rate. You be the judge.  "Green" is certainly not curing all of  America's ills, but it appears to be a good start.


1. There are already 2.7 million jobs across the clean economy.

2 For every $1 million dollars spent on renewable energy,  energy efficiency, green transit and other clean energy projects, there are 16.7 green  jobs created.

3. The clean energy sector is growing a healthy 8.3 percent a year on average. The stars of such stats are:

  • U.S. wind energy - up 35 percent annually  from 2006-2010
  • Solar thermal energy - up 18.4 percent  annuall y from 2003-2010.
  • Solar Photovoltaic power - up 10.7 percent
  • Biofuels - up 8.9 percent

  4. The manufacturing of cleaner cars now employs more than 150,000 Americans.

 5. Median wages are about 13 percent higher in green energy careers than in other sectors of the economy.

6. On average about 90 percent of the products used in energy efficiency retrofits are made in America. Examples include sheetmetal for duct work (99%), rigid foam insulation (95%), vinyl windows (98%), furnaces (94%), heat pumps and AC (82 %).

7. Solar power component makers boast a positive trade balance with $1.9 billion in exports, including to China.

8. Three U.S. energy retrofit programs have employed 25,000 Americans in three months: 1) Weatherization Assistance Program; 2) Energy Efficiency Block Grant Program and 3) State Energy Programs. 

 9. Some 91 percent of firms doing clean energy retrofits are small businesses with fewer than 20 workers.

10. About 41 percent of the nation's green jobs offer medium and long term careers and  training opportunities. Roughly 26 percent are in the manufacturing sector.

State's CERTs program offers energy grants

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: October 18, 2011 - 11:50 AM

Heads up tree huggers. This news is for you. 

The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) just announced a new round of green energy grants for communities. The grants are designed to cover installation, consulting fees and other labor costs associated with energy efficiency or renewable energy projects.

The effort will help create or protect numerous jobs, a critical step considering that Minnesota still struggles with a 7.2 percent unemployment rate.

The application deadline is Nov. 15 at 5 P.M. That's less than a month away.

The grant pool up for grabs totals $70,000, but a maximum of $10,000 will be alloted for each of seven designated regions.

Organizers noted that project proposals should focus on community-based energy projects that also provide an educational  forum for communities. The educational component should emphasize green energy technologies, their benefits and impact on the economy, environment, and community. 
Since 2006, the state's CERTs program has funded more than 150 projects including replacing energy-gobbling heating systems in city-owned buildings; installing solar panels in schools; and various wind power and greenhouse projects.





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