Minnesota’s just-announced unemployment rate for November dipped 0.2 of a point to a seasonally adjusted 7.4 percent, compared with the U.S. unemployment rate of 10 percent. State employers added 2,000 jobs in November, and October’s job gains were also revised upward to 5,000 from 2,200.
The early Christmas present of improving economic numbers are the last to be released by the state Department of Employment and Economic Development before the end of 2009.
“State labor markets continue to show signs of improvement,” said DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy. “We are also seeing a steady uptick in the average amount of hours worked, another sign of strengthening market conditions.”
In a teleconference this morning with reporters, McElroy said that while most economists believe the recession technically ended in July, “if you go to our work force centers, the recession is not over” for people seeking a job.
Although the 7.4 percent unemployment rate is an improvement over the previous two months, it is still higher than the 6.1 percent unemployment rate the state posted in November 2008 and much higher than the 3.8 percent to 4.6 percent unemployment rate recorded through much of the past decade.
As the economy continues to improve, McElroy said he “would not be surprised to see the unemployment rate pick up” as previously discouraged unemployed report they are actively seeking jobs.
As evidence that the economy is gaining strength, McElroy pointed to net job gains two months in a row and the fact that average hours worked increased the second month in a row from 32.2 hours in September, to 32.6 in October and 33.1 in November.
Over the past year, Minnesota has lost about 83,900 positions or 3 percent of its jobs. During that same period, the U.S. lost about 3.4 percent of its jobs.
“I am optimistic about the positive trend of this employment data, but economic recovery is still in its early stages. I encourage people looking for work to visit their local WorkForce Center for help finding a new job,” he said.
Trade, transportation and utilities gained the most jobs in November, adding 2,600 positions, with particular strength in the retail sector. Gains were also seen in professional and business services (up 1,700), construction (up 1,200), manufacturing (up 800), financial activities (up 400), and logging and mining (up 200).
Job losses occurred in government (down 2,400), education and health services (down 1,100), information (down 900), other services (down 400) and leisure and hospitality (down 100).
The unemployment rate is calculated based on a U.S. Census Bureau monthly survey contacting a randomly chosen sample of some 110,000 individuals who are 16 and older in 60,000 households nationwide. In Minnesota, about 1,600 households are contacted each month for the national count.