State Adds 7,300 Jobs, Unemployment Rate Steady
Minnesota’s unemployment rate remained steady at 4 percent for the month of August as employers around the state added 7,300 jobs, with most of the gains coming from the private sector.
The strongest areas of growth in the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s monthly job market analysis came from within professional and business services and leisure and hospitality (both up 4,600). Many other sectors had improved job figures, including education (up 2,900), health services (up 2,900), financial activities (up 1,600), logging and mining (up 200) and information (up 200).
By far, the area hardest hit was government occupation, which lost 5,000 jobs in August.
“Public education actually falls under the government side of things,” said DEED spokesman Monte Hanson. “The public schools shed jobs in their fastest rate since 2002, and thus that produced a seasonally adjusted loss of 5,000 jobs in August.” The category of education (which grew by 2,900 jobs) typically applies to colleges, private schools and other areas.
Other areas of fallen employment numbers were manufacturing (down 1,000), construction (down 200), and trade, transportation and utilities (down 200).
Year-to-date, Minnesota has gained more than 38,000 jobs and is beating the national unemployment rate by 1.1 percent. The Twin Cities area remains to be the largest growth region in the state (up 1.9 percent) followed by Mankato (up 1.5 percent), Duluth-Superior (up 1.2 percent) and St. Cloud (up 0.5 percent). Rochester stands as the only area to shed jobs in 2015 (down 0.3 percent).
At the start of 2015, the unemployment rate in Minnesota was beating the national average by 2.5 percent, although that gap has clearly narrowed. DEED’s Research Director Steve Hine believes that “there’s a limit to how low the unemployment rate can go even in a healthy economy…people go between jobs and so forth.”
Despite the rebounding unemployment numbers, the recovery is uneven. “There are still subgroups in our economy that are clearly struggling,” Hine said.
Specifically, the unemployment rate for the African-American community has spiked from 10.4 percent in 2014 to 15.5 percent today. Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday also found the median household income for African-Americans in Minnesota dropped nearly $4,000 in just one year, between 2013 and 2014. (Comparatively, median household income for whites rose almost $7,000.)
Hine added that he’s still “trying to wrap his head around” the sharp decline in the data. However, he noted Minnesota’s African population is unique with 40 percent being foreign-born versus the 11 percent national average.
“We do seem to be struggling to include all of our population in this ride to full employment,” Hine said. “It makes me more than a little concerned.”