Minnesota employers added only 600 jobs in January, a fraction of the 9,500 jobs posted for December, state officials said Thursday.
While January was helped by a surge in hiring at leisure and hospitality firms, results were stressed by retailers who laid off workers following the December holiday shopping period. Still, January marked the six consecutive month of job gains.
The state's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.7 percent, significantly below the national unemployment rate of 6.6 percent.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development revised 2013 figures and found that the state had gained 12,661 more jobs than originally reported during the previous 21 months. The revision was led by upward changes in construction, manufacturing and retail and helped put Minnesota's total December employment over the 2.8 million mark for the first time.
For January, Minnesota's labor market economist, Steve Hine, noted that the 600 job gains were "noticeably weaker" than the "very robust" fourth quarter of 2013. But it was "enough to improve the over-the-year gains to 52,160 jobs," for a 1.9 percent growth rate, Hine said, slightly ahead of the U.S. average of 1.8 percent.
Hine also noted that Minnesota's labor-force participation rate ticked up in January to 70.3 percent. While the rise was only two-tenths of a percent, the rate moved in the right direction. Labor economists across the nation have fretted that recent retirees and discouraged job-seekers were leaving the workforce, lowering the labor participation rate.
"Even with January's extremely cold weather, hardworking Minnesotans continued to generate jobs," Department Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said in a statement. For the past year, "we are particularly encouraged by the breadth of the labor market recovery."
Five of 11 industries added jobs in January. Leisure and hospitality added 3,000 while manufacturing added 2,000. In recent industry reports, U.S. supply managers reported an uptick in hiring at auto, appliance, medical equipment, metal and other durable goods factories.
Other sectors that added Minnesota jobs in January included: education and health care (1,200), professional and business services (900), other services (200), and logging and mining (53).
Sectors shedding jobs in January include trade, transportation and utilities (down 3,200); financial activities (1,200); information (1,100); construction (900) and government (300).
For full-year 2013, officials found job gains in all 11 sectors. Education and health services led the pack, posting 11,448 new jobs, followed by trade, transportation and utilities, which added 10,245 jobs.
Other sectors reporting jobs gains: Construction, 9,562; professional and business services, 6,337; manufacturing, 4,809; leisure and hospitality, 3,597; other services, 2,874; government, 1,600; information, 1,435; financial services, 201, and logging and mining, 53 jobs.