The loss of more than 12,000 jobs, dulling the momentum seen earlier this year, was the largest decline in five years.
Minnesota's volatile employment market turned in another set of surprising numbers Tuesday, with a hefty loss in jobs for September coming two months after a robust gain.
The loss of 12,700 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis for September was the largest single-month decline since April 2001 and the third-largest monthly loss since the state began compiling unemployment figures in 1950.
The jobless rate rose, meanwhile, from 3.7 percent to 3.8 percent in September -- driven mainly by an increase of 11,300 in the state's labor force, the largest increase this year.
After factoring in the numbers, state government and businesses have added 57,100 jobs over the past 12 months. That's down from the yearly total of more than 79,000 touted at an August news conference by Gov. Tim Pawlenty after the July numbers came out.
Pawlenty's opponents in next month's election, DFL Attorney General Mike Hatch and Independence Party candidate Peter Hutchinson, didn't pin the bad numbers in September on the governor. At the same time, they said it was wrong for Pawlenty to claim credit for the rosier job numbers reported in the summer.
"It is a concern though," said Hatch of the September job loss. "I hope it's an anomaly and not a trend."
Pawlenty campaign spokeman Brian McClung said it's important to note that the state has added jobs in 13 of the past 15 months and that its job creation rate for the past year stands at 2.1 percent, compared with a 1.3 percent rate nationwide.
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development officials warned against drawing conclusions about the overall employment picture based on a single month, adding that the September numbers could be revised next month. In a conference call with reporters, the department's acting commissioner, Ward Einess, said it's not unusual to see a pause in job growth after a period of strong increases.
Einess said the government, education, health services and manufacturing sectors all lost jobs in September. Most of the government sector losses were in education, where smaller-than-normal layoffs in June translated to smaller-than-usual job gains in September.
Einess said there was no clear explanation for the losses in education and health services. Manufacturing job losses were attributable largely to layoffs at the Ford plant in St. Paul, he said.
Sectors with job growth in September included professional and business services, financial activities, and certain services. Construction employment remained steady with gains in highway and commercial activity offsetting declines in residential construction.