Employers in Minnesota added 7,200 jobs in November, the state said Thursday, a welcome rebound from several months of tepid job gains.
Minnesota's unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points in November to a seasonally adjusted 3.5 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate in November was 5 percent.
The figures, combined with October numbers that were revised from 1,700 jobs lost to 200 jobs gained, brought total job gains in the state to 32,130 over the past 12 months, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) said.
"The state unemployment rate is now at its lowest level since March 2001," said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. "While the labor market is tightening, healthy job growth in November and recent wage gains are positive signs of an expanding economy."
Construction led the way in November, adding 3,300 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. Government added 1,000 positions and professional and business services added 900. Manufacturing shed 500 jobs in the month.
Workers are clocking more hours, with the average workweek rising to 34.3 hours, its highest reading on record, according to Steve Hine, the state's labor economist.
Wages also rose in November. Average private sector hourly pay rose to $26.49 per hour, compared to $25.88 per hour in November 2014.
Jobs have grown at a rate of 1.1 percent in the past year in Minnesota, still well below the 1.9 percent growth rate nationally. That's due in part to the slow growth of Minnesota's workforce, Hine said.
"We're going to continue to see job gains that are going to be constrained by slowing growth in the number of available workers," he said.
Estimates of black unemployment in the state ticked down for the second straight month to 14.7 percent. Joblessness among the state's roughly 300,000 black people remained five times higher, however, than white unemployment, which was flat at 2.9 percent. Hispanic unemployment rose slightly from 2.2 percent to 2.6 percent.
The unemployment figures reflect only those who are looking for a job but can't find one.
The past 12 months have shown solid job growth in the Twin Cities and Duluth but not in the state's other three metro areas.
Rochester was barely positive at 0.1 percent job growth and Mankato and St. Cloud both have seen their job markets decline over the past 12 months.