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State's jobless rate drops slightly in March

The Minnesota unemployment rate dropped 0.1 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted 5.4 percent, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The state lost 5,200 jobs during the month, and job growth in February was revised from 14,500 jobs gained to 9,900 jobs gained. The unemployment rate improved in March even while the state lost jobs, largely because more people stopped looking for work, dropping the state labor force participation rate to 70.8 percent.

Minnesota remained well below the U.S. unemployment rate of 7.6 percent in March. The state has gained 46,400 jobs over the past year - a growth rate of 1.7 percent, compared with a U.S. growth rate of 1.5 percent.

"After seven straight months of strong job growth in Minnesota, this pause in gains is consistent with the slower job growth rate nationally in March and is due, in part, to weather conditions that are slowing hiring in the state," said Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. "Despite this pause in growth, Minnesota remains near its pre-recessionary peak job numbers and continues to outpace the rest of the country in job growth."

Trade, Transportation and Utilities led all sectors in March with 1,400 new jobs. Other gains occurred in construction (up 800) and professional and business services (up 400). Information along with logging and mining held steady.

Job losses occurred in education and health services (down 2,900), leisure and hospitality (down 2,100), government (down 1,500), financial activities (down 800), manufacturing (down 400) and other services (down 100).

All 11 of the state's industrial sectors have added jobs over the past year, led by trade, transportation and utilities (up 15,600). Other gains have occurred in education and health services (up 10,900), professional and business services (up 9,400), financial activities (up 2,400), other services (up 1,900), information (up 1,800), manufacturing (up 1,800), government (up 1,400), construction (up 700), logging and mining (up 300), and leisure and hospitality (up 200).

In the state Metropolitan Statistical Areas, job gains occurred in the past 12 months in the Minneapolis-St. Paul MSA (up 1.8 percent), Mankato MSA (up 1.4 percent), Duluth-Superior MSA (up 0.9 percent), Rochester MSA (up 0.8 percent) and St. Cloud MSA (up 0.8 percent).