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Unemployment lowest since 2007

Unemployment in Minnesota hit pre-recession levels in October, the state said Thursday.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development reported that employers added 1,200 jobs in October, bringing the unemployment rate to 4.8 percent. That’s the same rate as December 2007, according to DEED.

Becker County is right on track with the state average, as the latest statistics in August shows a 4.1 percent unemployment rate.

With a labor force of 19,144 in Becker County, only 790 of those were unemployed in August.

The county hasn’t seen unemployment rates this low since August 2007, when it was 4.3 percent.

Since then, its year-to-year rates have looked like this: 5.5 percent in 2008, 6.8 percent in 2009, 6.2 percent in 2010, 5.5 percent in 2011, 4.6 percent in 2012, and now 4.1 percent.

“Minnesota’s unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest level in nearly six years, which highlights the continued strength of the labor market,” DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said in a news release. “Not only does the state have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, but we’re also adding jobs — an indicator of a growing economy on the right track.”

Education and health services, as well as manufacturing reported the biggest gains in September and October, while the professional and business services sector lost 7,300 jobs in that time period.

Minnesota added almost 50,000 jobs over the past year, a growth rate of 1.8 percent, according to DEED. That’s slightly higher than the national growth rate of 1.7 percent.

Minnesota’s unemployment rate remains well below the 7.3 percent national rate. However, the state’s labor force participation rate, the percentage of working-age people who are either working or looking for a job, fell to 70.1 percent in October, its lowest since 1981.

John Hageman of the Forum News Service contributed to this report.