Minnesota this morning released an upbeat April employment report, showing 10,200 new jobs and a drop in the unemployment rate to 7.2 percent, down from a revised 7.3 percent in the previous month.
Today’s news contrasts with a disappointing drop in employment rolls in March.
Minnesota’s unemployment rate was 2.7 percentage points below the U.S. unemployment rate of 9.9 percent in April, the largest gap between the two on record.
The state has lost 0.8 percent of its jobs in the past year, while the nation lost 1 percent of its jobs during that period. Meanwhile, new claims for unemployment benefits in Minnesota were down nearly 11,000, or 31 percent, in April, compared with a year ago, the Minnesota Department of Economic Development reported.
The nation’s total nonfarm employmentrose by 290,000 to 130.1 million in April, and the labor force increased sharply as previously discouraged workers re-enter the job-seeking market, which caused the unemployment rateto edge up to 9.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“It’s hard not to call this good news,” Dan McElroy, DEED commissioner, told reporters in a conference call this morning, “Signs continue to be somewhat encouraging, but I’m cautious. We have not yet to put together three consecutive months of job growth.”
McElroy pointed out that it would still take more than three years of job growth at half the strong rate in April to add back the nearly 134,000 jobs that have disappeared since peak employment in February 2008. About 28,300 jobs have been added in the state since the low point last September, an average of about 4,000 per month.
Manufacturing made “fairly substantial gains over the last four months, adding 7,800 jobs” in broad categories across both domestic and export-oriented industries, said Steve Hine, DEED Labor Market Information Office research director. In addition, 6,200 jobs were added in retail trade which “points to some consumer spending necessary for a sustained and strong recovery,” he said.
While construction shed 100 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis, the raw numbers told a different story, with nearly 8,000 jobs added, or 11.5 percent growth, compared with an average of 6.6 percent growth over the previous five years. Hine speculated that construction “has not been normal” for the past few years, so the adjustments may mask underlying strength. Heavy construction was the primary driver, with no signs of residential construction picking up, he said.
The details from the DEED report on a seasonally adjusted basis showed six of the state’s 11 major industry sectors added jobs in April, including manufacturing, which posted gains for the fourth consecutive month with 1,500 new positions. Other gains occurred in trade, transportation and utilities (up 5,700), government (up 2,200), education and health care (up 1,600), leisure and hospitality (up 700) and information (up 300). Logging and mining held steady in April.
Job losses occurred in other services (down 900), financial activities (down 500), professional and business services (down 300) and construction (down 100). Over the past year, job gains have occurred in professional and business services (up 4,500), education and health services (up 3,700) and government (up 1,200).
Job losses occurred in the past year in construction (down 9,300), manufacturing (down 8,100), other services (down 4,400), financial activities (down 3,900), leisure and hospitality (down 2,700), trade, transportation and utilities (down 1,100), logging and mining (down 1,000) and information (down 700).
In the state Metropolitan Statistical Areas, job gains occurred in the past year in St. Cloud (up 0.5 percent) and Rochester (up 0.1 percent). Over-the-year job losses occurred in Duluth-Superior (down 0.4 percent), Minneapolis-St. Paul (down 1.7 percent) and Mankato (down 3.4 percent).