Minnesota job numbers show mixed picture as unemployment inches up to 7%

The state’s official unemployment rate inched up to 7 percent from July’s revised figure of 6.9 percent as Minnesota employers added 600 jobs in August, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Describing the state job market as “relatively stable in August,” DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy pointed to a rise in of 4,100 jobs in the category that includes temporary help and a slight increase in the work week as hopeful signs. “We continue to see a steady pace of growth and outperform the country as a whole,” he said.

“Growth in August was led by professional and business services, particularly in the area that includes temporary help — a leading economic indicator,” he noted.

Minnesota also remained well under the U.S. unemployment rate, which also rose 0.1 percent to 9.6 percent in August.

But the overall number of private-sector jobs declined 300 while 900 government jobs were added. That contrasts with July, when the private sector added nearly 19,000 jobs.

Minnesota has added 32,500 jobs in the past year, a growth rate of 1.2 percent. U.S. job growth during the same period was 0.2 percent, DEED reported.

DEED officials downplayed the month-to-month swing in total private sector job growth. Describing July’s strong performance as “an outlier,” they pointed out that relatively strong growth in some sectors year to date has not been consistent over the months. “It’s more peaks and valleys,” said Kyle Uphoff, labor market assistant director at DEED.

Local government added 3,700 jobs in August while 1,900 temporary federal census workers left the job rolls, according to DEED.

The largest private-sector job losses in the month occurred in trade, transportation and utilities (down 3,500), construction (down 2,500), leisure and hospitality (down 1,800), other services (down 500), manufacturing (down 200) and financial activities (down 100).  These were offset somewhat by gains in education and health services (up 1,900), information (up 1,400) and mining and logging (up 100).
With construction employment down 8,100 for the year, driven by residential construction, Uphoff said, the sector “is still trying to a find bottom.”

Year-over-year job losses also occurred in other services (down 5,100), trade, transportation and utilities (down 1,800), and financial activities (down 1,200).

Job growth year-over-year was posted in leisure and hospitality (up 14,600), professional and business services (up 13,400), and education and health services (up 12,200), manufacturing (up 5,600), government (up 1,800),  information (up 900) and logging and mining (up 300).

Minnesota has added 32,500 jobs in the past year, a growth rate of 1.2 percent. U.S. job growth during the same period was 0.2 percent, DEED reported.

It also announced preliminary results of an 18-month study identifying openings for green jobs in the state. In the first round of the study, DEED identified 488 green job openings in Minnesota in the fourth quarter of 2009, about 1.8 percent of the total number of openings during that period.

In the state Metropolitan Statistical Areas, job gains occurred in the past year in the St. Cloud MSA (up 0.7 percent), the Rochester MSA (up 1.5 percent), the Minneapolis-St. Paul MSA (up 0.4 percent), the Duluth-Superior MSA (up 0.9 percent) and the Mankato MSA (up 0.3 percent).

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