March jobless rate unchanged but Minnesota labor force hits new high

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The closely-watched state unemployment rate was released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). It shows that Minnesota's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.8 percent, well below the U.S. rate of 6.7 percent.

The Star Tribune reports that the March rate shows that Minnesota employers added 2,600 jobs in March, gains that were offset partially by revised figures showing the state lost 1,100 more jobs than originally reported in February.

In February, the state's jobless rate climbed from a seasonally adjusted 4.7 percent to 4.8 percent.

The DEED press release notes that for the first time in state history, Minnesota’s labor force exceeded the 3 million mark in March, while the state labor force participation rate climbed 0.1 percent to 70.6 percent. WCCO reported that the state has added 41,000 jobs in the past year.

“Minnesota is adding jobs at a steady pace and now has added 33,000 more jobs than its previous all-time employment peak that occurred right before the recession,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “After extreme winter weather and a slow start to the year, March gains indicate renewed strength in the economy and continued growth in the months to come.”

Professional and business services led all sectors last month with 3,500 new jobs. Other sectors that gained jobs were construction, financial activities, government, information, manufacturing and logging and mining. Sectors that lost jobs last month were leisure and hospitality, with the loss of 2,700 positions. Other sectors losing jobs include transportation and utilities, education and health services and other services.

DEED breaks down state employment numbers by metropolitan area. It finds that in the past 12 months, the number of jobs in the St. Cloud metro area increased by 2.2 percent. Jobs in the Mankato area climbed by 2.1 percent, increased in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area by 1.4 percent and inched up in Duluth-Superior by 0.2 percent. The only metro area to show a decline over the past year was in the Rochester area, where the number of jobs fell by 0.2 percent.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Wisconsin's unemployment rate dipped below 6 percent in March to a five-year low of 5.9 percent, down from 6.1 percent in February. The jobless rate in Wisconsin is at its lowest point since November 2008.

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