Minnesota employers added 11,200 jobs in July, capping one of the best three-month hiring runs since 1990, the state jobs agency said Thursday.
The state’s unemployment rate fell to 3 percent as a result, down from 3.1 percent in May and June and the lowest level since June 2000.
July was the biggest contributor to the 31,800 jobs Minnesota added from May through July. Only two other three-month periods since 1990 have seen more people hired in the state, and both were shaped by one-time events. One big burst came after the end of a strike at Northwest Airlines in 1998, and the other came after a government shutdown in 2011.
In May, the state added 10,700 jobs and in June 9,900.
That action over the last three months was enough to lift Minnesota out of a doldrums that started last fall. And for the first time in a year, Minnesota surged ahead of the U.S. rate of hiring, based on a 12-month figure that smooths out volatility in the monthly data.
For the 12 months ended July 31, Minnesota added almost 60,000 jobs, a 2 percent growth rate to the base of nearly 3 million workers. The U.S. saw job growth of 1.8 percent in that same period.
“The state’s robust labor market is providing access to job opportunities for an increasing number of Minnesotans, including those who have been on the economic sidelines for far too long,” Shawntera Hardy, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, said in a statement.
Black Minnesotans made have seen huge gains in hiring over the past year, reducing a gap that has persisted for decades and is perceived by many economists to be a structural condition of the labor market.
The unemployment rate for blacks was 5.3 percent in July, down from 8.7 percent a year ago. The rate for white Minnesotans was 2.6 percent last month, down from 3.1 percent a year ago. Blacks were also participating in the Minnesota labor force at a higher rate, 73.8 percent, than whites at 71 percent.
In a commentary accompanying the release of the data, the state jobs agency called the improvement for black Minnesotans “extremely heartening” but cautioned that its data is based on small sample sizes. Agency statisticians said they will look for confirmation of the trend in federal data due to be released Sept. 13.
The unemployment rate for Minnesotans without a high school diploma has also fallen to 5.6 percent from 12.4 percent over the last year. And the teenage unemployment rate was 6.3 percent, down from 12.1 percent a year ago.
Out of the 11 categories in which the state agency sorts jobs, eight saw growth in July. The three that didn’t were financial activities, logging and mining, and business services. For the 12 months ended July, nine of the 11 categories grew. The two that didn’t were financial activities and business services.
For July, all five urban areas in the state saw growth over the 12 months ending July. Mankato reported a 6.9 percent jump, followed by the Twin Cities at 2.2 percent, St. Cloud 1.9 percent, Duluth-Superior 1.4 percent and Rochester 0.3 percent.