Minnesota’s employers added jobs last year at the slowest rate since the last recession, but wages grew strongly and hiring picked up sharply in January, the latest data from the state jobs agency showed Thursday.
While demand for workers remained high, the hiring slowdown reflected a diminished supply of workers, shaped mainly by the retirement of baby boomers.
The yearlong average for Minnesota’s job growth amounted to 0.5%, down from 0.9% in 2018, the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) said. That amounted to about 15,000 jobs in a state where nearly 3 million people are working.
It was the lowest growth since a drop of 0.5% in 2010 when the state was still emerging from the recession that began in 2008.
Data released by the agency in early March each year contain the outcome of a reconciliation between monthly surveys of employers and broader surveys of the overall population.
“With our monthly survey, we were showing slower growth than we did with the population data,” said Oriane Casale, labor market economist at DEED.
Through that deeper analysis, the agency’s economists also found that labor-force participation in Minnesota was higher and that some parts of the economy, notably the sizable education and health-services sectors, were stronger than previously thought.
The monthly surveys showed that education and health-service employers were shedding workers through much of the year. But the additional data showed that the sector, which accounts for nearly one in five Minnesota workers, grew slightly through the year.
That development came as a relief to Casale, who attributed the discrepancy to the narrower scope of the agency’s monthly survey. “It’s a big sector and we’ve never seen it decline before,” she said. “It doesn’t decline in recessions and it’s not countercyclical.”
In January, the state added 8,500 jobs, the most in a single month since May 2018. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.2% from 3.3% in December. Average hourly wages were up 4.9% from a year ago.
The jobs agency will report on February’s job market performance in two weeks.