Minnesota unemployment drops to 5.7%

Minnesota employers added 10,800 jobs in November, as the unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development also revised October's decline in employment from 8,100 jobs lost to a smaller 4,800 drop.

The state has gained more than 55,000 jobs in the past year, a growth rate of 2.1 percent. That's well ahead of the national pace of 1.4 percent during the same period.

Minnesota's jobless rate fell two tenths of a percent from October, and is a full two percentage points below the national rate of 7.7 percent.

"This employment report on net was quite strong and quite frankly was a relief, considering the weakness we had initially reported in October," DEED economist Steve Hine said.

Hine said Minnesota has regained 64.5 percent of the jobs the state lost in the recession.

Trade, transportation and utilities led all industries in employment growth, with 5,200 new jobs in November. Other sectors adding jobs include education and health services (up 3,800), leisure and hospitality (up 3,200), other services (up 1,500), construction (up 1,300) and manufacturing (up 800).

Job losses occurred in professional and business services (down 1,900), information (down 1,300), government (down 1,300), financial activities (down 400), and mining and logging (down 100).

There was a dark note in the report: The state's labor participation rate fell to 70.7 percent. But Hine is confident the drop also reflects the retirements of baby boomers.

"For some time now that participation rate has been down to levels we last saw in 1983," Hine said. "You know, it does give you a good indication of how our demographics are moving that in the other direction to a pretty significant degree."

Declining participation is often viewed as a sign of rising discouragement among workers about their prospects for landing a job. The rate peaked in early 2001 at 75.6 percent and the end of the longest economic expansion in U.S. history.

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