MN jobless rate dips to 3.2 percent; black unemployment at record low

Published 8:28 am Friday, March 23, 2018

MPR News Staff

MPR News/90.1 FM

Minnesota’s unemployment rate improved slightly in February to a seasonally adjusted 3.2 percent. The state, though, reported significant drops in joblessness for the state’s African-American and Latino workers.

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Minnesota’s overall jobless rate remained better than the 4.1 percent national rate, although U.S. job growth has outpaced Minnesota the past 12 months, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said Thursday.

State employers eliminated 1,300 jobs in February, though that was offset by a revision in January’s figures from 2,500 jobs gained to 4,900 jobs gained, the agency said.

“Minnesota’s unemployment rate is at a level last seen in August 2000,” DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy said in a statement. “While that indicates a tight labor market, it translates into improving job opportunities for those who have struggled to find work in the past, and a more aggressive push for those workers from employers.”

Unofficial estimates show an improving unemployment situation for black Minnesotans, with the 12-month moving average rate falling from 7.4 percent in January to 6.9 percent in February, the agency noted. That’s still significantly higher than the comparative 2.8 percent rate for whites.

The unemployment rate for Hispanics fell from 4 percent to 3.3 percent over the month, according to the department’s analysis.

Officials cautioned that because of the relatively small sample sizes, the calculated unemployment rates for black and Latino people are more susceptible to measurement error.

Leisure and hospitality led all sectors in February with 3,400 new jobs. Sectors that lost jobs in the month include professional and business services (down 4,600) and government (down 1,100).