Minnesota employers, contending with an ultratight labor market, have added jobs at a slower rate this year than last. But new data Thursday showed they are still finding some people to hire.
Minnesota added 3,400 jobs to its workforce of nearly 3 million people last month, the state jobs agency said. And the unemployment rate in October held at 2.8 percent — a level it reached in September for the first time since May 1999.
"With an overall 2.8 percent unemployment, employers are working harder to attract and retain talent," Shawntera Hardy, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, said in a statement.
May, June and July saw the biggest hiring gains of the year, averaging 9,300 hires a month. But for the rest of the year, the gains have been smaller and the overall pattern has been choppy.
The jobs agency, for instance, said Thursday that it had revised its data for September. Last month, it said employers cut 1,400 jobs, but a second look showed they added 500.
Measured on a yearly basis, Minnesota's hiring momentum slowed this fall. As recently as July, the annual change data showed Minnesota employers were hiring at a faster pace than the country as a whole.
But in the 12 months ended Oct. 31, the state added 36,450 jobs, a growth rate of 1.2 percent. The U.S. labor force grew at a 1.7 percent rate in the same period.
For Minnesota, that 12-month performance was below the 41,372 jobs it added during the 12 months that ended in October 2017. That figure amounted to 1.4 percent growth at the time.
Also in contrast to 2017, when health care and education employers led hiring in Minnesota, the biggest gains in recent months have been among leisure and hospitality companies as well as construction firms.
During October, leisure and hospitality firms added 2,500 jobs, construction firms 1,500 and transportation and utilities 800.
Professional and business service employers, other service firms, government and logging and mining companies all reported fewer jobs last month.
The state's five metropolitan areas all showed job growth in October, with Mankato leading the way with a 2.9 percent increase in employment.
Other measurements, such as the percentage of people considered to be long-term unemployed, as well as the rates of unemployment among blacks and Latinos, continued to hover at near-record lows just as the overall unemployment rate does. State officials caution that such subset data tends to be even more volatile because of the relatively smaller size of the survey sample.