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State gains 13,200 jobs in June; unemployment rate inches up to 6.7%

Minnesota employers added 13,200 jobs in June, driven by solid gains in the leisure and hospitality, trade and transportation and health care sectors.

The official unemployment rate inched up 0.1 percentage point to a seasonally adjusted 6.7 percent from the previous month, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). That compares with the U.S. rate of 9.2 percent for June.

Calling the job gain “very good news,” DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips said in a prepared release: “While Minnesota continues to show steady improvement, it will take continued long-term, sustained job growth to impact the unemployment rate, which has stayed virtually unchanged for months.” 

Although the state offices officially were closed the past three weeks by the government shutdown, DEED officials have been working with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to get Minnesota’s jobs numbers out as scheduled this morning, according to DEED spokesperson Kim Isenberg.

Leisure and hospitality led all sectors, adding 8,000 jobs. Other gains occurred in trade, transportation and utilities (up 5,000), education and health services (2,400), government (1,700), manufacturing (800) and financial activities (300).

Job losses occurred in June in construction (down 2,200), professional and business services (1,200), other services (900), mining and logging (400) and information (300).

Separately, applications for jobless benefits in the United States moved up by 10,000 in the week ended July 16 to 418,000. That number includes about 1,750 initial claims in Minnesota as the result of state employees filing after the July 1 shutdown, Labor Department figures showed today.

The previous week, Minnesota had indicated that about 11,500 of its reported initial claims resulted from the state shutdown.  The four-week moving average of claims nationwide, a less-volatile measure, fell to 421,250, a three-month low, from 424,000.

Announced layoffs by Minnesota companies so far this year is far outpacing last year’s rate, according to the Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Through June,  Minnesota employers have announced 7,877 pending layoffs, compared with 3,381 for all of 2010, although the number fell in June to 277 announced layoffs, down from 327 in May.

Nationwide, the overall pace of downsizing through the first half of 2011 is at the lowest level since 2000.

A total of 245,806 job cuts have been announced in the first six months, compared with nearly 300,000 job cuts announced in the first six months of 2010, according to the firm’s data.

Planned layoffs nationwide increased by 4,297, or 11.6 percent, to 41,432 in June. The June increase is the second in as many months. Announced layoffs in May were up 2 percent to 37,135, after falling to a four-month low of 36,490 in April.

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