UNDATED -- Amid the struggles of some big national retailers like Herberger's and Sears, you might be surprised to hear the number of retail jobs in central Minnesota is actually growing.

Cameron Macht is with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. He says the region has added 760 net new retail jobs since the industry bottomed out in 2010 in the wake of the Great Recession.

Motor vehicle and parts dealers, building material and garden equipment supply dealers, gas stations, general merchandise stores like Target, Walmart, and Sam's Club, health and personal care stores, have all been seeing growth.

Macht says there were 3,000 job openings in retail in central Minnesota in the second quarter of this year.  Those jobs are becoming much more attractive to job seekers.

When employers are trying to find qualified workers it's been a struggle even in retail, so we're starting to see wages rise pretty rapidly.  We're also seeing a decline in the percentage of those jobs that are part-time.  So the quality of those jobs that are retail also seems to be going up over time.

Macht says 60 percent of the retail openings offered health care benefits as well, that's up from about 20 percent several years ago.

The region had just over 36,000 retail jobs last year.

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