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Minnesota employers shed 4,200 jobs in April

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota marked its fourth straight month of weak employment numbers in April as the state’s employers shed 4,200 jobs, the state said Thursday.

“Frankly, this was not only disappointing, but quite surprising,” said Steve Hine, Minnesota’s director of labor market research. “I was anticipating much better numbers than we saw this month.”

Still, the state’s unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent from 4.8 percent in March.

While a 2,400 gain in manufacturing jobs “certainly was a bright spot” in Thursday’s report, Hine said, nearly every other sector reported a loss.

The “most glaring disappointment in April’s report,” Hine said, was construction, which lost 2,200 jobs.

But he cautioned that “a one-month decline at any point in time is not indicative of a trend.”

David Siegel, executive director of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities, said that despite pent-up demand for new home construction after the recession, his industry faces considerable headwinds.

“It’s probably a combination of things,” Siegel said of the downturn. “No question weather’s had an impact. It’s truly been a challenge from that perspective. And we’re still hearing that banks are reluctant to make loans for home construction. Credit is still tight.”

However, he expects the second half of 2014 to be better to his industry.

Meanwhile, the long-term look shows job growth accelerating in Minnesota. Since April 2013, Minnesota has added 41,934 jobs — an increase of 1.5 percent.

“While hiring slowed in April, the overall trend remains positive, with all but one of the state’s industrial sectors adding jobs over the past year,” said Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development. The DEED jobs report issued Thursday measures gains and losses month to month.

Hine pointed out that the loss of 4,200 jobs represents only about 0.2 percent of the state’s total employment.

In addition to the disappointing April numbers, DEED revised downward the number of jobs gained in March to 700 from 2,600.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.