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“The bottom line is we’ve been growing faster than the U.S. no matter what comparison you make,” Stinson said.
But labor force participation — the percentage of working-age people who are either working or looking for a job — fell in August to 70.3 percent, its lowest rate since January 1982.
While this has been offered as evidence that the unemployment rate does not capture the full extent of the problems in the labor market, Hine and Stinson said it is more the result of baby boomers retiring than a sign that more Minnesotans are giving up the job search.
The number of discouraged workers in Minnesota has fallen from 10,900 in August 2012 to 6,900 this past August, according to unofficial monthly survey data. But with more than 50,000 Minnesotans turning 65 each year and that number growing, the labor force participation rate will likely continue to drop.
“You have this big gob of people born after World War II, and now they’re turning 65, 66, 67,” Stinson said.
The weakness of manufacturing hiring is a lingering concern. The state’s manufacturing output has risen at an average rate of 7.4 percent over the past three years, but hiring has stalled in 2013.
Including the August decline of 3,400 jobs, Minnesota has lost 8,500 factory jobs this year. “What I would like to see,” Stinson said, “is some growth in manufacturing.”
Adam Belz • 612-673-4405 Twitter: @adambelz