Minnesota employers are off to a slow hiring start in 2017, as new data Thursday confirmed a swing in momentum first signaled by the state economic agency two weeks ago.
The state added 3,800 jobs last month and the unemployment rate held at 4 percent for the seventh straight month, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said in its preliminary February report.
The agency also revised its reading from January to a loss of 3,900 jobs from the loss of 8,300 jobs it made in a preliminary report on March 9. Put together, the agency estimates Minnesota’s base of nearly 3 million jobs lost 100 during the first two months of the year.
With the precise numbers subject to revision, the data are most useful for showing longer-term trends. Minnesota employers went through a spate of hiring during the last two months of 2016, when about 25,000 jobs were added.
The agency’s latest data show that 39,564 jobs were added in the 12 months that ended Feb. 28, a gain of 1.4 percent. Nationally, job growth was 1.7 percent in the same period.
That growth lag is due in part to the strength of Minnesota’s economy, which has lower unemployment and higher labor participation than the national averages. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in February, down from 4.8 percent in January. Minnesota’s lag in job growth was greater, a full half-percentage point, for much of 2016 until the hiring burst late in the year.
In February, the agency said trade, transportation and utilities led all hiring sectors by adding 5,700 jobs. Construction firms added 4,500 jobs and manufacturers added 1,100.
Gains were offset by cuts in several sectors, led by professional and business services with 3,100 fewer jobs and leisure and hospitality down 2,800 jobs. Government was down 2,400 jobs.
With the February data, the economic agency said the 12-month growth rate in the Twin Cities was 1.6 percent, St. Cloud 1.5 percent, Rochester 0.8 percent and Duluth 0.3 percent.