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Minnesota unemployment at 6.9 percent

Minnesota employers cut 11,800 jobs in December, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The state's unemployment rate reached a seasonally adjusted 6.9 percent for the month. Nationally, U.S. employers eliminated 524,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate grew to 7.2 percent.

"Employers are cutting jobs in nearly every sector, reflecting continued anxiety about the economy," said DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy. "Even during a slow economy, there is considerable hiring activity in Minnesota. According to wage detail reports filed with the state, employers are filling about 150,000 positions each month."

Minnesota posted job gains for the month in two sectors, with education and health services adding 4,000 positions and information gaining 100 jobs.

Job losses occurred in December in trade, transportation and utilities, which lost 5,300 positions, followed by government (down 2,900), manufacturing (down 2,900), professional and business services (down 1,600), leisure and hospitality (down 1,400), construction (down 1,100) and financial activities (down 600). Other services held steady for the month.

Over the past year, education and health services have been a bright spot, growing 2.5 percent with the addition of 11,000 jobs in the state. Financial activities also added jobs, growing 0.9 percent or by 1,500 positions.

Job losses over the past 12 months occurred in manufacturing (down 15,600), trade, transportation and utilities (down 15,300), professional and business services (down 14,400), construction (down 11,200), leisure and hospitality (down 8,400), information (down 1,300), other services (down 1,300), natural resources and mining (down 300), and government (down 100).

In the state's Metropolitan Statistical Areas, over-the-year gains occurred in Rochester MSA (up 0.1 percent), Fargo-Moorhead MSA (up 0.9 percent) and Grand Forks MSA (up 0.3 percent). Losses were posted in the Minneapolis-St. Paul MSA (down 2.4 percent), Duluth-Superior MSA (down 1.7 percent) and St. Cloud MSA (down 1.4 percent).

The state's employment count for November was revised downward by 13,366. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and DEED adjusted the job numbers based on closer investigation of state and national job trends. Most other states were required to make similar adjustments. Including the revisions, Minnesota has now lost 55,400 or 2 percent of its jobs in the past year, matching the U.S. rate of job losses.

McElroy said DEED is committed to helping people and businesses get through the economic downturn.

Along with services for the unemployed, such as Unemployment Insurance benefits, Minnesota WorkForce Centers, and the Dislocated Worker Program, the agency has services for businesses, including the Office of Entrepreneurship, which operates a network of Small Business Development Centers.

The agency's 47 WorkForce Centers around the state served nearly 100,000 unique customers last year, while 214,000 Minnesotans received about $1 billion in Unemployment Insurance benefits in 2008.