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State jobless rate steady; Minnesota employers shed 3,400 jobs

The state unemployment rate remained unchanged at a seasonally adjusted 7.3 percent in February, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The state jobless rate was 2.4 percent below the U.S. unemployment rate, which also held steady in February at 9.7 percent.

Minnesota employers trimmed 3,400 jobs during February. January's job gain was revised up by 1,600 to reflect 17,200 jobs added to the state's economy. In the past year, Minnesota has lost 2.3 percent of its jobs, while U.S. jobs have declined by 2.5 percent.

"February's employment picture is relatively stable, and I continue to be encouraged by certain trends we are observing in the data," said DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy. "Our labor force participation rate led the country at 72.5 percent in January and climbed to 72.7 percent last month. This could be a sign that more people are beginning to look for work as the recession eases."

McElroy also noted that employment in the temporary help category is up 5.5 percent over the year. The length of the average workweek has held steady for the past three months at 32.6 hours.

Four of the state's 11 industrial sectors gained jobs in February, led by trade, transportation and utilities, which added 3,400 jobs. Other gains occurred in manufacturing (up 2,000), information (up 400), and professional and business services (up 200).

Job losses occurred in construction (down 2,800), leisure and hospitality (down 2,300), government (down 1,900), financial activities (down 1,500), other services (down 700), logging and mining (down 100), and education and health care (down 100).

Over the past year, education and health services has added 3,600 jobs in the state.

Year-over-year job losses have occurred in manufacturing (down 21,900), trade, transportation and utilities (down 10,800), construction (down 10,600), leisure and hospitality (down 7,100), financial activities (down 4,500), other services (down 4,100), government (down 1,500), logging and mining (down 1,400), information (down 1,300), and professional and business services (down 1,000).