Minnesota’s job market has settled into a period of slow to no growth, with the latest data showing the state’s employers have marched in place for six months.
Employers shed 1,700 jobs in October, the state reported Thursday, a second straight month of losses that brings the total number of jobs in the state — 2.85 million — to roughly the same as it was in April.
“Tightening labor markets are beginning to constrain employment growth in Minnesota,” said Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, in a statement. “With more baby boomers retiring and leaving the workforce, we are seeing real impacts of the slowing labor growth.”
The unemployment rate ticked down 0.1 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted 3.7 percent, thanks to the fact the number of unemployed people fell further than the labor force grew. The U.S. unemployment rate in October was 5 percent.
To add to October’s decline, September’s losses were revised upward from 5,700 to 6,900 jobs lost. Minnesota has added 23,929 jobs in the past year, a growth rate of 0.8 percent, well below the U.S. growth rate, which over that period was 1.9 percent.
Leisure and hospitality — which includes hotels and restaurants — shed 2,300 jobs for the month in Minnesota. Construction lost 2,200. Those losses were partly offset by increases in the categories of other services and professional and business services.
Unemployment in October matched the postrecession low set about a year ago, but that doesn’t mean the state is at full employment.
“We’re not at an unemployment rate yet that matches the 2.5 percent rate that we saw toward the end of the 1990s expansion,” said Steve Hine, the state’s labor market analyst. “There’s still plenty of room for improvement.”
According to the state’s estimates of unemployment by race and ethnicity, which are based on a small sample size, black joblessness in Minnesota fell to 15.1 percent in October, its first decline in almost a year, but still five times the white unemployment rate of 2.9 percent.
“Clearly we have some issues with respect to our black population succeeding in our labor markets,” Hine said.
Estimated Hispanic unemployment fell below white unemployment for the first time in the past 10 years, to 2.2 percent.
Over the past year, health care has added 11,400 jobs. Administrative and support, which includes temporary positions, added 8,600 jobs. Hotels, restaurants and other food service employers added 4,500 jobs. Sectors losing jobs over the same period included construction, which dropped 3,800 positions; government, which dropped 3,000; and manufacturing, which lost 800.
Minneapolis-St. Paul’s metro area, and Duluth, have gained jobs in the past 12 months. Mankato, St. Cloud and Rochester have seen job declines over that period.
“Perhaps we’re moving into this environment where holding steady from one year to the next,” Hine said, “is going to be more indicative of the circumstances that we’re going to see in the coming years.”