Minnesota's jobless rate jumps to 6.4 percentby Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio
The job market continues to get tougher for Minnesotans as the recession deepens. Minnesota lost another 10,500 jobs in November and the state's unemployment rate spiked 10 6.4 percent.
St. Paul, Minn. — More than 14,000 Minnesotans joined the ranks of the unemployed last month. They now number nearly 190,000 in the state.
Meanwhile, Minnesota's unemployment rate rose to its highest level since April 1984. The rate jumped to 6.4 percent, a rise of half a percentage point over October.
"A half a percentage point increase is substantial," said Steve Hine, research director at the state Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Hine expects the numbers will get worse in coming months.
"We certainly, I think, have to expect to see continued weakness throughout most of 2009," he said.
Hine said that recent announcements about job cuts at Best Buy, 3M and other firms will take months to show up in unemployment numbers. That's because the workers leaving those companies won't be counted as unemployed until they're actually let go.
For now, Minnesota at least continues to do better than the nation as a whole on the jobs front.
The state has been losing jobs at a slower pace than the nation has. And, while the state's unemployment rate now stands at 6.4 percent, it's still under the national average of 6.7 percent.
In Minnesota, the only sector to see any significant employment gains in November was government. Nearly 5,000 jobs were added, but that was largely due to the hiring of temporary election judges by local governments.
All other sectors lost jobs. Trade, Transportation & Utilities led the way, shedding 4,200 jobs. Even the usually growing education and health care sector lost 100 jobs.
Dan McElroy, commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development, said it appears the average person collecting unemployment finds work within five months or so.
But, he notes some unemployed workers can collect benefits for more than a year.
The basic program is 26 weeks," McElroy said. "The extension granted in July was for 13 weeks. The extension in November is potentially up to 20 weeks. The eligibility will be different depending on the details of people's accounts. But the maximum now is 59 weeks. Not everyone qualifies for that."
McElroy said there are jobs out there, though it can take a lot of work to find them, as jobs losses outstrip gains.
"There are jobs in the economy," he said. "There are jobs in different parts of the state or different industries. Unfortunately, the net effect is not good or encouraging."
Indeed, state economist Tom Stinson has forecast Minnesota could end up losing 50,000 jobs in this recession. But McElroy is hoping that prediction turns out to be unduly pessimistic.
- All Things Considered, 12/18/2008, 4:50 p.m.