Minnesota added 3,800 jobs during January and saw its unemployment rate creep to 3 percent as sidelined job seekers became more upbeat about their chances and revived stalled job hunts, state officials said Thursday.
"Minnesota has started the year on a positive note with 3,800 new jobs. However, with revisions [from December] we continue to see job growth slowing across the state as our labor force continues to tighten," said Steve Grove, commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
December job gains were revised downward. Instead of gaining 500 jobs, the state actually lost 800 workers, according to the report.
From January 2018 to January 2019, the state gained 7,802 jobs. That proved the lowest job gain year over year since the state economy started growing again after the recession, DEED officials said.
The slowdown in employment growth comes at the same time financial analysts are nodding to lackluster GDP growth, the high U.S. dollar and concerns about a trade deficit that continues to soar. Some are predicting that U.S. economic conditions could slow during the second half of the year.
Even so, Minnesota's unemployment rate is now 3 percent, which is better than the national rate of 4 percent.
During January, robust job gains were seen in the state's leisure and hospitality sector. It added 2,200 new jobs, followed by trade, transportation and utilities (up 1,400) and financial activities (up 1,200).
The largest number of job losses — 1,500 — hit education and health care.
Steve Hine, director of DEED's Labor Market Information Office, said the state is close to full employment and noted that with unemployment at just 3 percent there is not much room for big growth in the year.
While the last year delivered nearly 8,000 additional jobs to Minnesota, exceeding that will require improvement in hiring among groups of people who are traditionally underemployed, including people of color, immigrants and people with disabilities. In the end, if successful, it could help to further shrink the racial disparities that still exist in Minnesota employment, he said.
Addressing the tight labor market may also nudge employers to help "eliminate barriers to employment" such as child care and transportation, Hine said.
"We don't have as much of a surplus pool of workers available as many states do," said Hine, adding that the scenario will encourage employers "to tap into underutilized resources."