Minn. gains 14,500 jobs in Feb.

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Minnesota's economy added 14,500 jobs last month, and January's tally was revised upward by another 1,400 jobs.

That means the state is just 1,000 jobs shy of the previous peak in February of 2008, early in the great recession. The state's unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent in February. The U.S. jobless rate last month was 7.7 percent.

If this recent pattern continues, the state's chief labor market analyst Steve Hine expects the state to soar well past its last employment peak.

"We'll be rolling out the confetti next month I would anticipate," Hine said.

According to the tally released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the state has gained 62,400 jobs over the past year.

That's a growth rate of 2.3 percent, well above the U.S. average of 1.5 percent during that period.

Over the past six months employment in the state has increased by 50,800 payroll jobs, the largest half-year gain since 1984.

"We seem to have picked up a head of steam here," Hine said. "We're even able to weather the headwinds that our Congress is throwing at us."

All 11 industrial sectors showed healthy job gains over the past year, said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben.

"Nine of those sectors are outpacing the growth rate nationally," she said.

Professional and business services led all sectors in February with 6,800 new jobs. The other sectors adding jobs included:

• Leisure and hospitality (+ 3,200)
• Education and health services (+ 1,900)
• Financial activities (+ 1,700)
• Construction (+ 1,400)
• Trade, transportation and utilities (+ 1,300)
• Logging and mining (+ 100)

Three sectors contracted last month:

• Government (- 1,000)
• Manufacturing (- 800)
• Information (- 100)

Here are additional figures for over-the-year employment growth:

And here's how some of the state's metro areas performed over the year ending in February: