It took a cold spell to snap a hot streak.
Minnesota's endless winter helped cool off the job market in March, as employers cut 5,200 jobs, a sharp dip after seven straight months of gains.
The monthly jobs report, issued Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, also showed that February gains were less robust than initially thought, revised downward from 14,500 jobs to 9,900.
Construction and weather-sensitive restaurant and retail hiring were weak compared to March 2012, said Steve Hine, the state's labor market economist, and they will likely be weak when the April numbers are revealed in a month.
“I’ve got to say, looking out the window, that we may see an extension of this weakness into April’s numbers,” he said, on a day when it snowed heavily.
The unemployment rate improved to a seasonally-adjusted 5.4 percent, largely because more people stopped looking for work, dropping the state labor force participation rate to 70.8 percent. That's near the record low, 70.7 percent, set in September 2012.
The job losses are also in line with national trends. The Bureau of Labor Statitistics said earlier this month that the nation only created 88,000 jobs in March -- far below average and below analyst expectations.
In Minnesota, education and health services shed 2,900 jobs in March, only the second month in the past 24 in which the sector lost jobs. Government, financial services and manufacturing also declined.
Trade, transportation and utilities, construction and professional and business services added jobs on the month.