Minn. jobless rate up slightly to 5.8 pct.by Bill Catlin, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The state unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percent in March to 5.8 percent, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Employers eliminated a net 200 jobs statewide in March. February's tally showing an increase of 6,200 jobs was revised lower to 5,800 jobs gained.
Even so, the state has added a total of 21,400 jobs so far this year.
The private sector added 1,600 jobs in March and has recovered 88,000 (58 percent) of the jobs that were lost during the recession.
"The underlying fundamentals of the economy remain strong, even after job losses last month for the first time since November," said DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips. "Declines in new claims for jobless benefits, increased job postings online and strong retail sales are among the signs of an improving economy."
The state remained well below the U.S. unemployment rate of 8.2 percent.
Trade, transportation and utilities led all sectors in March, adding 2,500 jobs, followed by leisure and hospitality (up 1,200) and education and health services (up 200).
Jobs losses occurred in government (down 1,800), manufacturing (down 1,000), construction (down 500), professional and business services (down 300), other services (down 300), information (down 100) and logging and mining (down 100). Financial activities held steady during the month.
Numerous industries have added jobs over the past year: education and health services (up 13,700), professional and business services (up 12,600), manufacturing (up 6,200), trade, transportation and utilities (up 4,100), other services (up 3,800), construction (up 3,000), information (up 1,100), financial activities (up 1,000) and logging and mining (up 200).
Job losses have occurred in the past year in leisure and hospitality (down 9,500) and government (down 6,700).
State labor market analyst Steve Hine noted that government was the biggest loser. It dumped 1,800 jobs last month and showed particular weakness in local government employment. Hine says the government losses continue a trend.
"Over the last two years government jobs are down 11,000 plus, while the private sector is up over 80,000, so it's really moving in opposite directions," said Hine.
Hine says the overall weakness in March's job numbers could be tied to seasonal factors. Employers in weather-sensitive industries may have ramped up hiring before March, which would make last month's numbers look weak by comparison.
However, retail had a strong month in March. Hine says retail employment had the biggest one month gain on record in the state, adding 3,000 jobs.
Nationally, the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits suggests hiring is slowing.
The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications dipped last week by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 386,000. But that was only after the department revised up the previous week's data to show 8,000 more people applied for benefits than first estimated.
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose last week 5,500 to 374,750. That's the highest level in three month and 9 percent lower than the level from September.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)