MN Adds 10.8K Jobs, Jobless Rate Falls to 5.7%

MN Adds 10.8K Jobs, Jobless Rate Falls to 5.7%

The state’s unemployment rate fell 0.2 percent as Minnesota employers added 10,800 jobs in November; the trade, transportation, and utilities sector—which includes the retail industry—added the most jobs during the month.

Minnesota employers added 10,800 jobs in November as the unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 percent, according to data released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The unemployment rate dipped 0.2 percent during the month. (The October rate was revised upward from 5.8 percent to 5.9 percent.) Minnesota’s jobless rate remains well below the national rate of 7.7 percent.

Minnesota’s employment growth comes one month after the state’s employers cut jobs. DEED originally said that the state cut 8,100 jobs in October; that number has since been revised to 4,800 jobs lost.

Katie Clark Sieben, who replaced Mark Phillips as DEED commissioner in October, said in a statement that Minnesota’s labor market “continues to make progress, having recovered more than 100,000 jobs since September 2009.”

“The state has regained jobs at a pace well ahead of the nation during that period,” she added.

Steve Hine, research director for DEED’s labor market information office, said during a Thursday conference call that the state’s labor market now appears to be on “much firmer footing.”

Minnesota has regained roughly 64.5 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, he said. During the past year, the state has added 55,200 jobs, representing a growth rate of 2.1 percent and outpacing the national growth rate of 1.4 percent during the same period.

The trade, transportation, and utilities sector added 5,200 jobs in November, the most of any sector. The growth was driven largely by an increase in retail employment, which Hine said is being fueled by strong holiday sales. In fact, the state added more than 9,300 retail jobs on a non-seasonally adjusted basis in November—marking the largest gain in a decade, Hine said.

Other sectors that added jobs in November were education and health services (3,800), leisure and hospitality (3,200), other services (1,500), construction (1,300), and manufacturing (800).

Several sectors, however, lost jobs in November: professional and business services (1,900), information (1,300), government (1,300), financial activities (400), and mining and logging (100).

While November’s strong labor numbers were driven by an increase in employment, they were also influenced by a decreased labor participation rate, which dipped 0.1 percent to 70.7 percent, Hine said.

Hine described November’s jobs report as “a relief” but said that some indicators suggest the state could see “some flattening of our rate of growth.” For example, adjusted new claims for unemployment insurance rose during the month, online job postings dropped by about 1,500, and the average work week was three-tenths of an hour shorter in November, at 33.2 hours.

In recent months, state officials have said that employers are keeping a close eye on the looming “fiscal cliff,” a series of tax increases and spending cuts that will take effect at the beginning of the year if Congress and the president fail to reach a new budget deal. Hine said Thursday that any agreement reached in Washington is likely to have some “contractionary impact” on the labor market, but November’s gains indicate that employers are hiring despite concerns about the cliff.

Year-over-year, the education and health services sector is up 23,300 jobs, the most of any sector. The only sector that is down year-over-year is logging and mining, which lost 100 jobs.

All of the state’s largest metro areas have experienced job growth during the past year, led by St. Cloud, which is up 2.3 percent. It is followed by Mankato (up 2.2 percent), Duluth-Superior (up 1.9 percent), Minneapolis-St. Paul (up 1.7 percent), and Rochester (up 1.3 percent).