Minnesota employers added 6,100 jobs in August, the state said Thursday, an increase driven by gains in construction, temp work and administrative support jobs.
Combined with a revision to the July figures that erased an initially reported loss of 4,200 jobs, the data released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development cast job growth in 2014 in a more favorable light.
The state has now added more than 200,000 jobs since the bottom of the downturn, and over the past 12 months Minnesota has added 56,311 jobs, a 2 percent growth rate compared with a U.S. growth rate of 1.8 percent. Most of those gains were in the fall of 2013.
The unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent in August, compared with a U.S. rate of 6.1 percent.
“It’s a good sign that the growth is broad-based and it’s going in the right direction,” said Toby Madden, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
The state unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since November 2006, but the drop was driven by continued declines in labor force participation — the share of working-age people who are either working or looking for work.
The rate fell to 69.8 percent, its lowest level since 1979. Since the numbers of discouraged and marginally attached workers have been falling, the decline in workforce participation primarily reflects an aging workforce, said Steve Hine, the state labor market economist.
“It’s quite safe to say that this is really a result of demographics, which also suggests that it will continue for some time,” Hine said.
And while businesses will have to fight to recruit and train workers in coming years, Minnesota’s labor force participation rate is still among the highest in the nation, along with Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota.
Construction and professional and business services were the strongest sectors in August, each adding 2,500 jobs. Manufacturing also added 800 jobs.
“It’s not that we’re hiring a lot of hamburger flippers and hotel maids,” said Tom Stinson, the economist at the University of Minnesota. “Our big growth over the past 12 months has been in construction and manufacturing.”
Together, construction and manufacturing have added 17,600 jobs in the past 12 months — 31 percent of total job growth in the state over the period, and a good sign for workers, since jobs in those industries generally pay middle class wages.
Leisure and hospitality, the industries that include hotels and restaurants, have shed 300 jobs in the past 12 months.
The average workweek of private sector employees edged up to 34.3 hours per week, Hine said, and online job postings increased by 1,900 in August. In the Twin Cities, there are now more openings than unemployed people, according to the government’s labor market statistics.
“That’s the first time the number of job postings in the Twin Cities has exceeded the number of unemployed job seekers since they started tracking it,” Hine said.
Statewide, there are still more unemployed people — 128,000 — than openings.
Black and Latino unemployment remain elevated, though the black population, especially, has seen improvement in the past year.
The estimated jobless rate for black workers fell from 15.1 percent to 10.4 percent over the past 12 months, according to the state’s 12-month moving averages.
Hispanic or Latino unemployment has been moving in the opposite direction, rising from 6.4 percent to 8.7 percent over the same period.
White unemployment rate continues to decline — to 3.9 percent.
Women are faring better than men in the workforce, with an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent compared to the 4.9 percent jobless rate for men.
Around the state, Mankato and St. Cloud are adding jobs at a slightly faster rate than the Twin Cities.