Minnesota employers added 1,900 jobs in September, a slight overall gain that marked the continuation of slow, steady growth in the state job market.
The unemployment rate held at a seasonally adjusted 4 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate in September was 5 percent.
“Although it’s been nothing spectacular, I think it’s been notable that as long as it’s been going on, our growth rate has been very persistently solid, if not remarkable,” said Steve Hine, a labor market analyst for the state.
Thanks also to a slight upward revision in the August employment numbers, Minnesota has added 40,899 jobs over the past year. That puts state job growth at 1.4 percent over the past 12 months, compared to a 1.7 percent rate of job growth nationally.
The state’s labor force participation rate has fallen more than a percentage point in the past four months, to 69.2 percent, its lowest level since June 1979. That shows an increasing shortage of workers in Minnesota and rising numbers of retirements.
Job growth in the state has been steady, and is likely better than the volatile monthly numbers indicate, said Mark Vitner, a regional economist for Wells Fargo. The rise in the unemployment rate from 3.6 percent a year ago to 4 percent in September is a bit perplexing, though.
“The rise is noteworthy, as the state’s labor force has contracted over the past year, which should have reduced the unemployment rate or at least held it steady,” Vitner wrote in his analysis of the Minnesota jobs numbers.
In welcome news for workers, private sector wages in Minnesota have started to rise noticeably, after remaining unmoved for much of the economic recovery after the financial crisis. Average hourly pay rose 50 cents in September, to $27.38, a 5 percent increase compared to a year ago.
“We’re really starting to see our improved labor market conditions translating into wage rates,” Hine said.
According to the state’s estimates, black unemployment has halved in the past 12 months, from 16.1 percent to 7.9 percent. That is still higher than Hispanic unemployment, which is estimated at 5.7 percent, or white unemployment, which is 2.9 percent.
In the state’s major cities, Minneapolis-St. Paul’s job growth over the past 12 months was 2 percent, Rochester’s was 3.7 percent, and St. Cloud’s was 2.8 percent. Duluth-Superior was unchanged, and Mankato lost 0.2 percent of its jobs.