Job vacancies in Minnesota spiked to a record high this spring as employers tried to ramp up hiring but struggled to fill open positions.

Employers in the state had more than 205,000 job openings in the April-June period of the second quarter, according to a biannual job vacancies survey released Friday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

That was an 84% increase from a year ago, when there were 111,753 job openings, and a 40% increase from pre-pandemic times two years ago.

In the second quarter, there were roughly twice as many open positions as there were unemployed people Minnesota, indicating a very tight labor market similar to what Minnesota faced in the few years leading up to the pandemic.

Many workers dropped out of the labor force during the pandemic because of health concerns and challenges with child care, among other reasons.

Over the summer and fall as vaccines have become more widespread, schools have reopened, and extended unemployment benefits have expired, more Minnesotans have been returning to the workforce and jobs.

The state recently reported one of the biggest monthly jumps this year with 17,100 jobs added in September. The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.7%, and the state said there just under 111,000 unemployed Minnesotans.

Still, some employers are having trouble filling jobs and are having to work harder to recruit, with many offering higher wages and other incentives to attract workers. There are still about 82,350 fewer Minnesotans in the labor force right now compared to before the pandemic.

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the number of job openings in the U.S. decreased a bit in August to 10.4 million, but that was still the second-highest number on record. At the same time, a record 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August.

Minnesota's second-quarter job vacancies by industry were highest in health care and social assistance which had nearly 40,000 openings, accounting for about 20% of total vacancies, according to DEED. That was followed by accommodations and food services as well as retail which both had more than 36,000 openings.

About 32% of the vacancies were for part-time jobs and 11% were for temporary or seasonal work. And about two-thirds of job openings required no education beyond high school.

And the median wage offer was up 4.3% from a year earlier, according to DEED's study. However, there was also a 5.4% increase in the consumer price index, a measure of inflation, in that time.