MN jobless data: What will this week bring?

Conflicting reports the past few weeks about Minnesota’s jobs picture have us more than curious to read Thursday’s state unemployment update.

Forbes recently put the Twin Cities as among the best job markets in the country.

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At the same time, Minnesota state economists have been cautioning us that it will be mid-2013 before our state recoups the number of jobs lost in the Great Recession.

Thursday’s data on Minnesota unemployment for December will give us a better picture of which path we’re on.

The widely watched unemployment rate’s held fairly steady during the fall at around 7.1 percent.

While that’s a lot better than the U.S., there continue to be worrisome signs. Maybe the biggest concern: our steady numbers seem to be less about job creation and more about people leaving the labor force.

We’ll be looking for an uptick in the labor force, which has fallen by more than 30,000 since the spring.

We’ll also be looking to see if the state added jobs. That’s been a roller coaster the past few months.

September data, for instance, saw the state shed nearly 10,000 jobs from the prior month.

A month later, state officials trumpeted a 14,000 October job gain.

In November, though, the state was losing jobs again – down 5,100 from October.

The state experts say Minnesota needs to produce about 2,000 jobs a month to simply keep pace. They’ve noted, “this slower pace of job creation … over the next 6 to 12 months will continue to make it very difficult to put the state’s unemployed, displaced, and underutilized workers back to work promptly.”

That was from November. We’ll get a better sense Thursday of how that forecast is playing out.

Help us get a jump on the data. Tell us what the jobs market is like around you. Seeing signs that things are improving? Post something below or contact us directly at MinnEcon.

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