Minnesota unemployment bottoming out?

Minnesota’s jobless rate is still rising. Still the worst in more than 25 years. But if you’re searching for silver linings, take a deeper look at Minnesota’s numbers today.

A few thoughts:

There’s a widening gap between the nation’s jobless rate (9.4 percent) and Minnesota’s (8.2 percent). That’s good for Minnesota anyway. In February jobless data showed Minnesota and the nation pretty much neck and neck.

Leisure and hospitality jobs in Minnesota rebounded, up 7,100 jobs mostly in restaurants and bars. And construction added 900 jobs — the first month of growth in two years.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits were down slightly in May compared to April (although still nearly 80 percent higher than in May 2008)

None of that’s to say that things are perfect here or even that a corner’s been turned. Folks in our Public Insight Network are still sharing stories of deep struggle in this economy.

That includes Rev. Jonathan Zielske who works with a neighborhood church on St. Paul’s East Side. He wrote us Wednesday:

Today I received two phone calls requesting help with food, gas, or basically anything. I told them we support our local food shelf and that is all we can do. Generally, callers like these are so frustrated with our inability to help out, or with their predicament that has forced them to beg, that they just hang up – that was what happened today.

Later, someone who recently lost his small business stopped by. He asked if we would make a $60 payment for his MinnesotaCare insurance or else he would be dropped and unable to get back on MNCare for four months.

Understandably, desperate people believe churches can provide them with something of a safety net when the state ceases to do so. Though my heart goes out to them, we are not a social service agency and lack the resources to help all those in need.

Jobs and unemployment have been constant discussion topics in our Network. Check out some of the responses we’ve mapped below, then add your voice.

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