MN Adds 6,200 Jobs, Unemployment Rate Rises to 5.7%

Minnesota has regained 81,400 jobs since the recovery began-representing more than half of the 156,300 jobs that were lost during the recession.

Minnesota employers added 6,200 jobs in February, according to data released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Still, the state's unemployment rate climbed 0.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted 5.7 percent. (In January, the state added 15,500 jobs, and the unemployment rate dipped 0.1 percent to 5.6 percent.)

The state's monthly job gains data is derived from a survey of 3,000 employers, while the unemployment rate comes from a sample of 1,700 households. Labor Market Information Office Director Steve Hine said that the contradictory data-an uptick in the unemployment rate coupled with job gains-means that the households surveyed “had a different experience” than the businesses.

The uptick comes after many months of the unemployment rate either dropping or holding steady; the last time it climbed was in July, although that change was affected by the state's government shutdown. Hine said that February's increase in the jobless rate is statistically insignificant.

During the past three months, Minnesota has added 32,300 jobs. The state has regained 81,400 jobs since the recovery began-representing more than half of the 156,300 jobs that were lost during the recession. And Minnesota's unemployment rate remains well below the national average, which remained unchanged in February, at 8.3 percent.

DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips said in a statement that Minnesota's “labor market recovery appears to be gaining steam.”

The education and health services sector added 5,100 jobs in February, leading all other sectors. Hine said that the growth was fueled by gains in private education, which accounted for 2,900 of the 5,100 added jobs.

The government sector-which shed 1,700 jobs in January-actually saw the second-highest gain in February, adding 2,500 jobs during the month. Hine said it was “a strange month in that regard,” but the government gains were driven by local education, including workers in public schools. He said it's common to see a “rebound” in local education employment in February, as some employees that were off payroll during the holiday season returned-but this year's rebound outpaced those seen in recent years.

Other gains occurred in construction (1,300); leisure and hospitality (1,300); information (900); other services (500); and logging and mining (200).

Another surprise: Professional and business services-which added 5,600 jobs in January-did an about-face and lost 4,000 jobs in February.

“We saw a pretty significant weakness in the corporate headquarters component,” Hine said. And administrative services, including temporary help, is leveling off after seeing fast-paced growth during the past couple of years. Hine said that shift is natural and indicates that businesses are relying more on permanent jobs.

Hine also pointed out that the technical services component of the professional and business services sector-which includes engineering, computer design, and other “well-paying jobs”-remained strong in February.

The other sectors in which job losses occurred were trade, transportation, and utilities (900); manufacturing (600); and financial activities (100).

Despite its performance in February, the professional and business services sector leads all industries in year-over-year job gains, with 14,200. Other sectors that experienced over-the-year job gains include education and health services (11,000); manufacturing (6,400); trade, transportation, and utilities (3,700); construction (3,300); other services (3,100); information (800); financial activities (800); and logging and mining (200).

The only two sectors that have seen year-over-year losses are leisure and hospitality (10,200) and government (5,500).