Minnesota Unemployment Rate Dropped to 4.2 Percent in March
Minnesota appears to be on track for economic recovery, though it’s anyone’s guess how soon the state will return to pre-pandemic levels.
In a Thursday morning press briefing, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) commissioner Steve Grove said that the state last month reached its “highest levels of growth since the pandemic began.”
“We still have a long way to go, however,” Grove said.
In March, Minnesota’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent, marking a small improvement over the February rate of 4.4 percent. As in prior months, that was mostly due to people leaving the labor market entirely, DEED officials said.
And similar to earlier months, the distribution of unemployment was uneven across the state, with Black Minnesotans bearing the brunt of pandemic-induced economic declines. Black Minnesotans had an unemployment rate of 9 percent in March, while white Minnesotans had an unemployment rate of 5.9 percent.
In total, Minnesota added 21,600 jobs in March. Construction led the way, adding 7,900 new jobs last month. But the leisure and hospitality industry, which added 4,300 jobs last month, wasn’t far behind.
There have been anecdotes, both locally and across the country, of restaurants actually having a hard time bringing workers back.
“Even though the vaccines are flowing, we still have a pretty high level of virus in the state,” Grove noted. “With the variants being the predominant strain out there now, I think there is still some tentativeness about getting back to in-person workplaces, and certainly the unemployment insurance benefits make it at least more palatable not to for some workers.”
But Grove also touted growth in the construction industry.
“The good news is that we saw job growth both in industries that were hard hit by the pandemic but also in industries that were less impacted,” Grove said. “Construction more than made up for the heavy job losses that we saw in February with that really tough cold snap.”
Minnesota’s jobs figures have, generally, looked better than national numbers. In March, the national unemployment rate sat at 6 percent, while the national labor force participation rate was 61.5 percent. Minnesota’s labor force participation rate in March was 67.8 percent, which Grove said was “one of the highest” in the nation.