State's October unemployment unchangedby Bill Catlin, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota's jobless rate held steady last month at 5.8 percent, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
Employers cut 8,100 payroll positions in October, but the job gains in September were bigger than first reported. Officials revised the September employment growth from 5,900 jobs statewide to 11,000 jobs.
Minnesota's October decline runs counter to the relatively robust (at least in the context of a generally weak jobs recovery) national employment increase of 171,000 last month.
Minnesota has added 34,700 jobs in the past year, an increase of 1.3 percent, slightly behind the increase nationally of 1.4 percent.
"Last month's numbers are a reminder that the economic recovery on a month-to-month basis is at times uneven," said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark. "We're encouraged, though, by the steady growth in many sectors, particularly construction, which has increased employment by more than 4 percent in the past year. Our labor force participation rate held steady and our unemployment rate consistently remains below the national average."
Steve Hine, the state's chief labor market analyst, said the drop in employment in October would worry him more — if it weren't for other positive signs.
"Evidence in the form of our unemployment claims and our job postings does continue to point to a fairly decent recovery in terms of employment," Hine said.
The rebounding construction industry led all sectors last month, gaining 1,200 jobs. Other industries with growing payrolls included information (+ 800), trade, transportation and utilities (+ 400), and logging and mining (+ 200). Financial activities held steady.
Employment declined in professional and business services (- 5,300), government (- 2,500), leisure and hospitality (- 1,100), other services (- 900), education and health services (- 600), and manufacturing (- 300).
SANDY DRIVES NATIONAL NUMBERS
Superstorm Sandy drove the number of people seeking unemployment benefits up to a seasonally adjusted 439,000 last week, the highest level in 18 months.
The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications increased by 78,000 mostly because a large number of applications were filed in states damaged by the storm. People can claim unemployment benefits if their workplaces close and they don't get paid.
The storm has affected the claims data for the past two weeks and may distort reports for another two weeks, the department has said.
Sal Guatieri, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said that a similar jump in applications occurred after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
(The Associated Press and MPR News reporter Annie Baxter contributed to this report.)