MN Job Growth Slows in Aug., Unemployment Hits 7%

Minnesota's unemployment rate inched up to 7 percent last month, but it still remains well below the national average of 9.6 percent.

Minnesota employers added 600 jobs in August, but it wasn't sufficient to offset unemployment-which increased to 7 percent from 6.9 percent in July, according to figures released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Still, Minnesota's unemployment rate remained well below the national average, which hit 9.6 percent in August.

During the past 12 months, Minnesota has added 32,500 jobs, or about 1.2 percent. Meanwhile, job growth across the country has increased only 0.2 percent.

“While Minnesota's employment picture was relatively stable in August, we continue to see a steady pace of growth and outperform the country as a whole,” DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy said in a statement. “Growth in August was led by professional and business services, particularly in the area that includes temporary help-a leading economic indicator.”

Of the state's 11 job sectors, only five saw growth in August. Professional and business services fared the best, adding 4,900 jobs. DEED attributes this growth primarily to an increase in administrative and support services jobs.

Job gains also took place in the following industries: education and health services (up 1,900), information (up 1,400), government (up 900), and mining and logging (up 100).

The trade, transportation, and utilities sector took the biggest hit in August, shedding 3,500 jobs. Other losses occurred in construction (down 2,500), leisure and hospitality (down 1,800), other services (down 500), manufacturing (down 200), and financial activities (down 100).

During the past 12 months, Minnesota's leisure and hospitality sector has added 14,600 jobs-the most of any industry. Of the other sectors that saw gains, professional and business services and education and health services added the most jobs with 13,400 and 12,200, respectively.

The largest year-over-year job losses occurred in the construction sector-which lost 8,100 jobs-and “other services,” which shed 5,100 positions.

During the past year, the following cities have added jobs: Rochester (up 1.5 percent), St. Cloud (up 0.7 percent), Minneapolis-St. Paul (up 0.4 percent), Duluth-Superior (up 0.9 percent, and Mankato (up 0.3 percent).

DEED also announced Thursday the preliminary results of a study focused on green jobs in Minnesota. The 18-month study identified 488 green job openings in the state during the fourth quarter of 2009-accounting for about 1.8 percent of the total job openings during that period.

The most green job openings were in environmental clean-up and pollution reduction and prevention, which made up 37 percent of the positions. Other sectors with green job openings included education, regulation, compliance, or public awareness (18 percent), energy efficiency and conservation (17 percent), renewable energy and alternative fuels (15 percent), and sustainable agriculture and natural resources conservation (13 percent).