Report: Twin Cities has the nation's lowest metro unemployment rate


The Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area can feel good about the number four.

The area's unemployment rate dropped to 4.0 percent in May, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Labor. The Star Tribune notes that the jobless rate in the Twin Cities has dropped by a full percentage point since February, giving the area the lowest unemployment rate of any large metropolitan area in the country.

“It’s fantastic news,” said Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, told the newspaper. “This is a reflection of the healthy economy and a labor force we have in the state that’s very well-educated and hardworking."

Minnesota has regained all of the jobs lost during the recession and can boast the third-highest ranking of labor force participation in the nation, Sieben added, with 70.6 percent of workers in the job force.

The numbers follow a trend of slowly falling unemployment throughout the entire state. In May, the state added 10,300 jobs and its unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. In April, the state rate stood at 4.7 percent.

"It's unusual that we're No. 1, because communities that are one-industry towns, when that industry is really hot, usually have the lowest unemployment," David Vang, finance professor at the University of St. Thomas told the Pioneer Press. "And then a few years later, they drop to the bottom."

Twin Cities Business noted that many American cities saw an improvement last month; the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that unemployment rates were lower in May than they were a year earlier in 357 of the 372 metropolitan areas it measured. With a miniscule jobless rate 2.2 percent, Bismarck, North Dakota, had the lowest unemployment rate among the nation's smaller cities. Bismarck in in the region where oil drilling has created thousands of new jobs.

The Pioneer Press story said that "broader indicators give a less-rosy picture" than the news of the low rate, noting that Minnesota's so-called U6 unemployment rate, which includes those working fewer than 35 hours a week, stood at 10.3 percent in the first quarter of 2014.

"There are certainly a lot of young people here in the Twin Cities who have graduated and are working in jobs below their level of training," Vang said.

Rounding out the five major metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates are Austin, Texas with 4.1 percent; Columbus, Ohio and Oklahoma City tied at 4.4 percent, and Boston had an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent.

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