Minnesota's economy showed surprising strength last month, adding 8,500 jobs in January. The jobless rate fell to 4.5 percent, a decline of two-tenths of a percent.
The largest employment gains occurred in the professional and business services sector, which added 4,000 jobs. Two other industries saw job gains of 2,100 -- trade transportation and utilities, and construction.
Steve Hine, a state labor market analyst, says some of apparent strength in the construction sector is an artificial result of seasonal adjustments.
Over the past year, construction has been the weakest major industry in the state, posting an employment decline of more than 5 percent.
The Twin Cities metro area has trailed the statewide average in employment growth over the past year. The Duluth, Rochester and St. Cloud areas have outpaced the state.
Last year also proved better for job growth in Minnesota than originally estimated. An annual calibration indicates Minnesota gained 6,200 jobs in 2007. Initial estimates showed the state lost about 350 jobs last year.