Minn. adds 6K jobs in Feb., unemployment up to 5.7 pct.by Bill Catlin, Minnesota Public Radio,
Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota employers added 6,200 jobs in February, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
The state unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted 5.7 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.3 percent.
Steve Hine, DEED's chief labor market analyst, said the uptick in the unemployment rate was not statistically significant. The jobless rate is based on a survey of households, while the jobs number is based on a separate survey of employers. Sometimes the two show differing results.
Hine said it was a strong jobs report overall.
"We've averaged over 13,000 jobs a month over the prior two months," he said. "So 6,200 is not as good as we had been doing. But it's twice or more what we need to keep up with normal population growth."
Minnesota has regained more than half of the 156,300 jobs that were lost during the recession and added 32,300 payroll positions in the last three months.
"The labor market recovery appears to be gaining steam, with three consecutive months of strong job growth," said DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips. "The state has now recovered 81,400 jobs since the recession."
Education and health services added 5,100 jobs in February, followed by government (up 2,500), construction (up 1,300), leisure and hospitality (up 1,300), information (up 900), other services (up 500) and logging and mining (up 200). Employers shed jobs in professional and business services (down 4,000), trade, transportation and utilities (down 900), manufacturing (down 600) and financial activities (down 100).
The brightening in construction employment overall is beginning to be felt in the trades, according to one labor representative.
Stan Theis, business manager of the St. Paul plumbers union, said plumbers' job prospects are improving, albeit slowly and slightly.
"We still have close to 200 members who are unemployed or underemployed for sure," he said. "There are some projects that'll be starting this spring and summer. But could use a heck of a lot more. That's for sure. Our members are still hurting."
Construction has yet to recover even one quarter of the 46,000 jobs the industry lost.
Minnesota's rate of job growth over the past 12 months, 1.1 percent, lags the U.S. growth rate of 1.6 percent.
- All Things Considered, 03/22/2012, 5:19 p.m.
Bill Catlin is an editor responsible for directing MPR News' business and economics coverage.