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One Month’s Takeaway: 12,500 Jobs

11/21/2016 4:00:00 PM

Minnesota employers eliminated 12,500 jobs from their payrolls in October – seasonally adjusted figures – and the overall unemployment rate was a steady 4 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in October.

This is a snapshot in time, because over the year, Minnesota has added 31,375 jobs, a 1.1 percent gain. Go here for the complete DEED press release on the October numbers.

Leisure & Hospitality and Retail Trade Were Big Losers

  • Leisure & hospitality saw the biggest seasonally adjusted drop of 3,900 jobs. Arts, entertainment & recreation accounted for a large share due, in part, to an unexpectedly early seasonal layoff, leading to a 2,900 job loss.
  • Somewhat counterintuitively, retail trade hiring in preparation for the holiday season was weaker than a typical October, accounting for 2,400 of the 2,500 jobs lost.
  • In Healthcare & Social Assistance, the Allina nurses strike likely continued to impact annual growth in hospital employment, brought down to 0.8% – that was its slowest in over a year.

Leading Indicators Present Another Picture

This is the picture most readers don’t see: The strength of October’s leading indicators.

  • The average workweek of private-sector employees increased by four-tenths an hour to 34.5 hours – its strongest reading in 14 months.
  • Private-sector average wage rates increased by 29 cents over the month and $1.23 or 4.7% over one year ago to reach $27.62. (Compare to 3.4 percent nationally.)
  • Manufacturing average wages rose 6.2 percent in Minnesota versus 3.4 percent nationally.
  • Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell 650 in October to 18,037, despite the month having five Mondays, an occurrence that often inflates these numbers.

The Gleanings

If you consider recent political developments, we’ve just been reminded that our economy is always susceptible to the impact of sudden or unpredictable events, especially as our expansion enters its eighth year. Employment growth, unemployment trends and leading indicators continue to suggest a slow but steady recovery.

Significant disparities, while much improved, continue to plague our workforce. One notable response is DEED’s recently announced equity competitive grants that will improve economic opportunities for people of color, women, youth, people with disabilities and/or veterans in the state.

A shortage of workers exists in many regions and fields. This most certainly will worsen in the years ahead.

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