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Jobs Increase and Racial Disparities Diminish

5/22/2017 3:00:00 PM

Minnesota boasts the largest monthly jobs gain in nearly four years.

Points to keep in mind:

  • Minnesota’s racial disparities seem to be slowly but surely diminishing, based on unofficial estimates from the Current Population Survey. To review: Over the past 12 months through April, the unemployment rate for black Minnesotans has averaged 8.1 percent compared to 3.1 percent for whites. This is down from one year ago when these rates were 12.0 percent and 2.9 percent. The 8.1 percent rate is the lowest we have seen except for two months late in 2016 when we hit 8.0 percent and 7.9 percent. Put another way, there are 6,300 fewer unemployed blacks in Minnesota than there were a year ago.
  • Jobs gained since January 2011 – when Gov. Dayton took office – are now are up to 283,400. Jobs gained since the recessionary low point in September 2009 are up to 326,300.
  • The unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent, while Minnesota’s labor force participation rate and employment-population ratio each increased two-tenths to 69.7 percent and 67.1 percent, respectively.
  • Education and health care provided the biggest job boost with a 4,300 increase, followed by construction with 3,600. Eight of the 11 major sectors added jobs during the month. Smaller gains occurred in manufacturing (up 1,100); other services (+1,000); leisure and hospitality (+500); and information (+200). Losses were minimal: Trade, transportation shed 700 jobs, financial activities lost 500, and logging and mining lost 100.
  • The average work week is a half-hour longer than a year ago, an increase that is the equivalent of about 36,000 additional ‘average time equivalent’ workers. Perhaps employers are turning to a longer work week in the face of worker shortages, but you can expect to hear ever more frequent stories of worker shortages both geographic and economic.
  • Private-sector wage rates are now up 7.5 percent over last year, well above the 3.2 percent national rate. We’re starting to see the looming worker shortage tighten. The strong wage gains are widespread, too, including leisure and hospitality (wages are up 8.6 percent over a year ago), financial activities (7.4 percent), professional and business services (7.3 percent), education and health care and manufacturing (each up 6.8 percent). Wage growth lagged in construction (2.7 percent) and trade, transportation and utilities (1.4 percent).
  • Small job loss in Mankato. Mankato continues to be the only metropolitan area with an annual loss of jobs (-0.2 percent over-the-year employment change), but this very small decline may well reflect the very tight labor market and slowly shrinking labor force – not any weakness in conditions.

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