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Where Are Minnesota’s New Jobs?

Employment gains have flatlined, and the state added just 100 jobs in May.

Where Are Minnesota’s New Jobs?

Minnesota’s job growth for the month of May was positive, but just barely. The state added only 100 jobs during the month, according to the latest employment report from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

“That’s essentially unchanged, statistically speaking,” said Steve Hine, director of DEED’s Labor Market Information Office, of the addition of 100 jobs in May.

But there was more discouraging news in DEED’s latest report: Previously reported job gains for the month of April almost completely vanished after being revised. DEED’s initial report of 3,600 jobs added in April was revised downward to just 200 jobs.

In the big picture, the state has been losing jobs in 2019 – not adding new ones. Cumulative statistics for the five months from January to May show that Minnesota has lost 2,600 jobs year-to-date.

But the latest report is not a surprise to anyone who’s been tracking the numbers. Twin Cities Business previously reported that job growth in the state essentially ground to a halt in August 2018 and has remained weak ever since. Over the ten-month stretch from last August through May, the state has posted a net loss of jobs, Hine said.

The good news? The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 3.3 percent, which remains a historically low number. Per the latest DEED report, the state has gained 4,164 jobs year-over-year. But that pales in comparison to past years during the economic recovery.

“Throughout much of this expansion, we very consistently and persistently added 30,000 to 40,000 jobs over the year throughout the expansion,” said Hine. “That seemed to come to an end.”

DEED’s numbers also show that Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area has lost 4,442 jobs in the last year. During that same time Rochester, St. Cloud and Mankato all posted gains.

Hine noted that the labor shortage is one factor that hurting the state’s job growth.

“We can’t count a job unless there’s a warm body to fill it,” said Hine. “We have been seeing our [job] vacancy numbers hit all-time highs.”

Earlier this year DEED reported that Minnesota employers had nearly 137,000 job vacancies in the fourth quarter of 2018 – a 20 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2017. Based on those numbers, DEED calculated that the state had 0.6 unemployed persons for every job opening.

Monthly job statistics are consistently revised. Hine provided the most up-to-date monthly 2019 statistics to Twin Cities Business as of June 20:

   Job gains/(losses) 
 January 2019  +3,400
 February 2019  (-7,800)
 March 2019  +1,500
 April 2019  +200
 May 2019  +100
   
 Year-to-date  (-2,600)
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