Minnesota added 100 jobs last month, the state jobs agency said, or maybe it was just 51.
Because the agency rounds data to the nearest hundred, it could have been either number or any up to 150.
New data released Thursday showed the state unemployment rate held at 3.3% for a second month after rising in April from the March level of 3.2%. But it also revealed that the state’s job market has stalled out.
“Steady unemployment suggests that the Minnesota workforce is operating near its capacity,” Steve Grove, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, said in a statement. “The tight labor market continues to represent a major challenge to Minnesota’s job growth.”
In announcing the May job figures, DEED also revised downward its growth data for April. A month ago, its first estimate for April was a gain of 3,600 jobs, but now the agency says that month’s gain was just 200.
And for the year ended May 31, data that is less volatile than monthly numbers, Minnesota added about 4,000 jobs, a growth rate of 0.1%.
That’s well below the 1.5% rate seen in the nation as a whole during that 12-month period.
“We’re getting into an environment where a lack of workers is going to bring employment growth, if not to a halt, to rates well below what we’re used to,” said Steve Hine, labor market analyst at DEED.
For almost two decades, demographers and economists forecast that the state’s job market would flatten in the late 2010s or early 2020s because births and migration to the state, from other states or other countries, was not enough to overcome the retirement of baby boomers.
Even the nation’s prolonged economic expansion, which reached its 10th year this month, has not been enough to forestall the leveling of the state’s employment base, which has held at 2.96 million people for about a year.
During much of the expansion, Minnesota’s 12-month job-growth data routinely showed additions of 30,000 to 40,000. But that range started tumbling last year.
For the 12 months that ended Feb. 28, Minnesota actually lost 1,300 jobs. It was the first time that happened since July 2010, a period that included the tail end of the last recession.
While Hine attributed the flattening in the latest data to the demographic change, he said it’s likely some recent softening of the state’s economy may have contributed.
Some manufacturers may be holding back as they contend with the effects of the trade war and the weather-delayed spring planting may have impacted jobs in some rural areas.
“We’re not necessarily in the strongest conditions right now when you consider these other events,” he said.
Professional and business service employers led the 11 employment sectors designated by DEED with 1,800 new jobs last month.
Manufacturing cut 1,200 jobs, the biggest drop among the sectors.