MN Loses 100 Jobs; Unemployment Rate Inches Up

MN Loses 100 Jobs; Unemployment Rate Inches Up

When accounting for February’s job losses, Minnesota has added a net 700 jobs in the past two months; that’s compared to 27,700 added during the last three months of 2013.

State officials said Thursday that Minnesota employers shed a net 100 jobs in February as the over-the-year growth rate continued to slow.

Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted 4.8 percent, according data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Minnesota’s jobless rate remains, however, well below the national average of 6.7 percent.

DEED revised its January jobs figures, saying now that Minnesota employers added 800 jobs that month, rather than the previously announced 600. That means that, over the past year, Minnesota has gained 44,714 jobs—representing a growth rate of 1.6 percent, which just barely outpaces the national rate of 1.5 percent.

Steve Hine, research director of DEED’s Labor Market Information Office, said during a Thursday conference call that Minnesota's labor market “continued to lack the kind of strength we saw in the last quarter of last year.” For context, Minnesota has added a net 700 jobs in the past two months compared to 27,700 added during the last three months of 2013.

Hine said that, while “not spectacular,” the over-the-year growth rate is still positive and “not surprising,” given that it somewhat mirrors national trends. Too, he said that it’s yet to be seen whether Minnesota’s labor market will experience a rebound this summer, given the dismal winter weather.

DEED largely attributed the higher unemployment rate to an increase in the state’s labor force participation rate, which climbed 0.2 percent in both January and February, reaching 70.5 percent. That’s the largest two-month gain seen in more than a dozen years, Hine said, adding that Minnesota’s labor force is roughly 5,200 jobs short of hitting a record 3 million members.

“It’s certainly not unusual for participation to increase as an economy improves,” Hine said. In other words, more people may be returning to the labor force, as they perceive that there will be more job opportunities amid an improving economy. There will continue, however, to be downward pressure on the participation rate, as a growing number of people hit retirement age, Hine said.

How Various Job Sectors Fared In February

The education and health services sector added a seasonally adjusted 1,300 jobs in February—tying with the professional and business services sector for adding the most positions. The leisure and hospitality sector, meanwhile, added 900 jobs.

Minnesota added 300 manufacturing jobs—marking the fifth consecutive month of growth in that industry. Construction also added 300 jobs, and that sector is now growing at more than three times the national pace. Hine said commercial construction projects were particularly strong in February. The mining and logging sector, meanwhile, added 100 jobs during the month.

But there were significant losses in several areas. The information sector lost 1,000 jobs, and so did government. The trade, transportation, and utilities sector—which includes retail and was a glaring weak spot in January—also lost 1,000 jobs.

Financial activities lost 800 jobs, and most of those losses occurred in the finance and insurance component, Hine said. The “other services” sector, meanwhile, lost 500 jobs in February.

“While job growth slowed last month, most Minnesota employment sectors are well ahead of where they were a year ago,” DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said in a statement.