ROCHESTER (AP) — Labor economists say businesses in southeastern Minnesota will have to outbid other potential employers to get the workers needed to meet demand.

A recent survey found nearly 500 construction positions and 8,000 total jobs open in southeastern Minnesota, a region with a 2.4 percent unemployment rate.

Area businesses are begging for skilled trade and service workers to help build Rochester both for the present and the future.

The problem is likely to get much worse with a downtown medical center project expected to add 30,000 more jobs over the next two decades.

Labor market economist Steve Hine says the region is adding 600 workers annually, less than half of what it needs. He says Rochester must attract employees by paying higher wages.