Minnesota employers added 6,600 jobs in November and October's gains were adjusted upward slightly as the state posted its fourth straight month of above-average job gains.
The state's unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent, its lowest level since May 2001, according to seasonally-adjusted figures released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Hotels and restaurants led all sectors, adding 5,000 jobs in November. Financial services added 3,100. Construction shed 3,500 positions and retail lost 2,500.
The ratio of unemployed people to online job postings fell below 1 in October and fell further in November.
“We now have more job postings online than we have unemployed individuals,” said Steve Hine, the state labor market economist. “In November that ratio really fell to .86 – that is 86 unemployed individuals per 100 online job postings.”
Wages, however, remain basically flat, which is something to watch in coming months, Hine said.
“We’re seeing the improvement in jobs and in unemployment, but that missing ingredient really continues to be an improvement in wages,” Hine said.
The state has added more than 35,000 jobs in the past four months. Thanks to a tepid first half of the year, however, job growth in the state over the past 12 months is 1.8 percent, compared with a U.S. growth rate of 2 percent during that period.
In the state's metropolitan statistical areas, Mankato's job growth was 3.6 percent for the past 12 months, Minneapolis-St. Paul was up 2.1 percent, St. Cloud was up 1.3 percent and Rochester was up 0.8 percent. The Duluth-Superior metropolitan area saw employment fall 0.2 percent over the same period.
The unemployment rate for black Minnesotans turned upward in November, to 11.2 percent. That's still well below the 14.8 percent a month earlier, but the recent trend is toward higher unemployment.
"While we were seeing significant improvement in the unemployment rate for blacks, the last couple months have been quite a different story," said Hine.
This post has been updated.