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State’s unemployment report: It’s tough to keep a job

Hanging onto a job was tougher in Minnesota during November when the state’s unemployment rate jumped to a seasonally adjusted 6.4 percent, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

That was up from a revised October rate of 5.9 percent unemployment for the state. Still, it was below the nationwide November rate of 6.7 percent. The rates do not include workers who have settled for part-time jobs or become discouraged and stopped looking.

By another measure of the depth of the global recession, Minnesota employers cut 10,500 jobs in November.

“Year over year we have now lost about 31,000 jobs,” DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy said this morning in a teleconference with reporters.

That adds up to a 1.1 percent job loss since November 2007 in Minnesota, compared with a national decline of 1.5 percent during the same period.

If it hadn’t been for the election and the recount of Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race, the November picture would have been even gloomier. Governments added 4,900 positions, primarily election judges for temporary positions at local polling stations.

The job losses for November and also for the year represented a cross section of commerce in Minnesota: trade, transportation, utilities, construction, manufacturing, hospitality and other industries.

The few steady places to work included government, education, health services and some banks.

New unemployment claims
Nationwide, the number of workers filing new claims for state unemployment benefits declined last week, as many economists had expected, but it still hit recession-level highs, according to a U.S. Labor Dept. weekly report.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits stood at a seasonally adjusted 554,000 for the week ending Dec. 13, down 21,000 from the previous week. Counted a different, and somewhat more telling way, the four-week moving average was 543,750 claims, up from the previous week’s average.

Continuing claims, those drawn by workers collecting benefits for more than one week, fell 47,000 in the week ended Dec. 6 to 4,384,000.

“But that only offset a fraction of the prior week’s mammoth 340,000 increase, suggesting it is taking the unemployed longer to find new work,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

The data comes after 11 months of declining nonfarm payrolls, the Journal said.

“Employers in November alone shed 533,000 jobs as the unemployment rate continued rising,” it said. “The latest initial claims data, which include the survey week for the December payroll report, suggest payrolls this month will match or even exceed November’s decline.”

And layoff announcements kept piling up even after the Labor Department closed off the week’s figures. Chrysler LLC said Wednesday it will idle all of its factories in the United States for at least one month, and other major employers — including Best Buy Co. in Richfield — have announced staff reductions.

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