Finally, some good news on the jobs front.
Minnesota employers added 7,200 jobs in June, the state reported Thursday, snapping a three-month string of losses.
The gain was the largest since January and was driven by demand for professional workers, steady growth in manufacturing and a spike in government hiring. Unemployment in the state remained at 5.6 percent, well below the 8.2 percent national average.
Still, experts point to risk factors around the globe that could quickly reverse any momentum. And, while the June numbers were relatively strong, the state also revised its May data to show a loss of 4,700 jobs, five times as many as initially thought.
"There's a lot of indicators that are pointing positively, but the momentum that we have both nationally and here in Minnesota is not enough to weather any significant negative shocks," said Steve Hine, director of the state's Labor Market Information Office. "And there's the threat of those -- globally in Europe and China -- the potential for a fiscal contraction at the end of the year."
The figures the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development released Thursday show Minnesota has regained 53 percent of the 156,300 jobs it lost in the economic downturn.
The state has added 82,600 jobs since the bottom in September 2009, and 35,000 of those have come in the past 12 months.
In June, the state's job figures were led by professional and business services, which added 5,100 positions.
Government added 4,400 jobs, manufacturing added 1,100, and the publishing and telecommunications sector added 1,100.
The best area in which to work in Minnesota right now is the broad category of business services, especially temporary office work and information technology jobs. Employers have added 11 percent more jobs since June 2011 in the categories of computer system design and related jobs and in administrative and support categories.
Northeast Minneapolis-based Clockwork Active Media Systems, which designs and builds websites, has added about 10 jobs since the beginning of the year, bringing its total to 64.
"We're seeing more large companies look for website help, so we're moving to more and more larger clients," said Scott Johnson, the company's director of finance, a recent hire himself. "It's no longer a tightening of the belt where it's continually 'cut cost, cut cost, cut cost.'"
Workers with accounting expertise are also in high demand, said Jim Kwapick, district president for Robert Half International, a professional services staffing firm. So are skilled administrative assistants and customer service workers.
"Demand for some of these specific, specialized skill sets is pretty strong," Kwapick said.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis projects a slightly higher rate of job growth in Minnesota for the rest of the year and then slower growth in 2013, Fed economist Toby Madden said.
But economists caution against reading too much into any given month's numbers.
"You've got a lot of variability month to month," said Madden. "It seems like 'steady as she goes.'"
Not every sector is growing, either. Job losses during June were in leisure and hospitality and construction, sectors that should be adding workers in the summer. Leisure and hospitality, which includes arts, recreation, hotels and restaurants, shed 2,300 jobs in June and 7,800 in the past 12 months.
"June employment in that sector is at its lowest point in 10 years," Hine said. "I would have expected that we would have a better rebound in the spring than we have experienced."
Construction companies cut 1,100 jobs in June but still have added 4,000 over the past year.
The health industry, which barely flinched during the recession, has also bolstered employment numbers, and construction and manufacturing have posted steady gains over the past 12 months.
All metro areas in the state have gained jobs in the past 12 months except Duluth, which has shed 2,400 jobs since June 2011.
Adam Belz 612-673-4405