The employment picture brightened for some — but not all — regions of Minnesota in 2015, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Over the past 12 months, jobs in the Duluth metropolitan area increased by 1 percent, while the Rochester region saw a 0.1 uptick. But metro Mankato and St. Cloud saw the number of jobs drop by 1.4 and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Overall, Minnesota’s unemployment rate fell 0.2 percent in November as the state added 7,200 new jobs, according to figures released last month by DEED. More than 3,000 new construction jobs drove the boom, as well as jobs added in the government, business service, leisure and hospitality and transportation sectors. DEED estimates the state has added 32,130 jobs over the past 12 months.

“The state unemployment rate is now at its lowest level since March 2001,” DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said in a statement. “While the labor market is tightening, healthy job growth in November and recent wage gains are positive signs of an expanding economy.”

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks



Police: Man robbed bank, bought lottery tickets

Hibbing police say a local man bought a stack of lottery tickets immediately after he robbed a local bank.

Johnathan Charles Firebaugh, 33, of Hibbing, faces aggravated robbery charges after police say he walked into a bank inside a Hibbing Wal-Mart last week wearing a hooded sweatshirt, threatened a teller and demanded cash.

After the robbery, officers and police dogs tracked the suspect’s footprints to a gas station about two miles away, where employees said a man in a hooded sweatshirt had just purchased a stack of lottery tickets.

The Bemidji Pioneer reports that Firebaugh, who was charged last week, bought $150 worth of lottery tickets and won $200.

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks



Fundraising tournament for slain deputy’s family

Law enforcement officers from across the state will play some hoops to raise money for the family of Steven Sandberg, the slain deputy from Aitkin, Minn.

A charity basketball tournament will be held in April, the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office announced last week. Proceeds will benefit the family of Sandberg, the 60-year-old deputy killed in October by a suspect he was guarding at St. Cloud Hospital. Sandberg’s survivors include his wife, Kristi, and daughter, Cassie.

The annual charity event was started in 2011 to raise money for the families of fallen officers, the Sheriff’s Office said. The public is welcome to attend this year’s event in Mendota Heights.

Jenna Ross @ByJenna