What’s The Best Region For Water Jobs?

Posted on Oct 3, 2015

By Sara Jerome

Minnesota is claiming a lofty title: The state says it is one of the top locations in the world for water innovation.

The governor’s office made this claim in September, citing a new report by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board.

“The report found that job growth in the Minnesota water technology industry was three times faster than overall state employment during the last decade and that it employed more than 13,500 workers in 2014,” the International Falls Journal reported.

“Employment in the industry grew 13 percent between January 2004 and the first quarter of 2014, while the state’s total employment grew 4 percent during that period,” the research report said.

Water sector employees appear to be taking home more money than many other workers in the state.

“Average annual wages in the water technology industry were 27 percent higher than the state average. Minnesota workers in the water industry brought home more than $ 885 million in wages in 2014, up 15 percent from about $ 768 million in 2004 (full year wages, inflation adjusted),” the research report said.

Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith praised the findings, per a statement.

“Minnesota’s fast growing water technology industry is creating good paying jobs and contributing to Minnesota’s global competitiveness,” she said, per the news report. “This emerging sector shows that clean water and economic growth can go hand in hand, for the benefit of all of us.”

Companies such as Minnepura Technology, launched last year, are the backbone of the state’s water industry. The company “uses bacteria-based biotechnology to make contaminated water safe and useful. This technology, licensed with help from the Office for Technology Commercialization, is based on work by University of Minnesota researchers affiliated with the BioTechnology Institute,” according to the research report.

Small companies play a key role in the state’s water industry. “About 80 percent of water establishments in the state have 10 employees or fewer, and 97 percent of establishments have fewer than 50 employees,” the research report said.

Another sign of the health of Minnesota’s water industry is the rate of innovation in the state.

“During the last five years (2010-2014), Minnesota had 165 water technology patents, ranking ninth among U.S. states. On a per capita basis, Minnesota was third in water technology patents in 2014,” the research report said.

For similar stories, visit Water Online’s Labor Solutions Center.

Image credit: “Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant Utility Plant,” PEO ACWA 2012 © 2012, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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