After Two Months Of Losses, MN Adds 8,400 Jobs

After Two Months Of Losses, MN Adds 8,400 Jobs

Industries that had delayed hiring due to extended cold weather helped drive job gains in May.

Following two months of job losses, Minnesota employers in May added 8,400 jobs, and the state’s unemployment rate held steady at a seasonally adjusted 5.3 percent, according to data released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The state’s labor market had lost some steam in March, when the state shed 3,300 jobs. DEED originally reported that Minnesota lost 11,400 jobs in April; that figure was since revised to 10,200.

Steve Hine, research director for DEED’s Labor Market Information Office, has attributed much of the past two months’ weakness to weather-sensitive areas. And he said in a Thursday conference call that May’s improvement was fueled largely by the late arrival of warm weather.

“We saw a return of job growth along with the return of spring weather,” Hine said.

The leisure and hospitality sector—which includes restaurants, hotels, and resorts, among other things—gained 2,900 jobs in May, the most of any industry. The sector saw improvement across the board, according to Hine.

Government added 2,800 jobs, although that gain was driven largely by growth in weather-sensitive areas, such as municipal parks and golf courses. Overall federal and state employment saw continued weakness and “those areas continue to be a drag on our overall job gains,” Hine said.

Professional and business services added 2,000 jobs and saw a boost among landscaping services. Education and health services added 1,800 jobs; other services, 1,100; construction, 1,000; manufacturing, 100; and financial activities, 100. The heavy and civil component of the construction sector, which includes road and bridge work, improved in May, likely marking another positive impact of the warmer weather.

Meanwhile, the trade, transportation, and utilities sector shed 2,600 jobs—and Hine attributed the losses in large part to weakness among department store retailers. The sector also lost thousands of jobs in April, and the trend is “concerning,” he said.

The other sectors that lost jobs in May were information (down 700) and mining and logging (100).

DEED pointed out that Minnesota has regained 93 percent of the 160,100 jobs lost during the recession. Minnesota has added a total of 43,300 jobs over the past year—representing a growth rate of 1.6 percent, matching the national growth rate. Meanwhile, the state’s 5.3 percent unemployment rate remains well below the national average of 7.6 percent.

DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said in a statement that May’s figures “add to the mounting evidence of a broad-based economic recovery in Minnesota.”

“Every major industrial sector has added jobs in the past 12 months, and the state’s unemployment rate remains at a five-year low,” she added.