Minnesota economic data generally positive

There are three signs of a strengthening economy in Minnesota and nationally out today.

Minnesota employers added a robust 15,500 jobs between December and January.

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In addition, annual revisions to past employment data show Minnesota added more jobs than originally believed after the recession. Through last December, Minnesota has regained almost 14,000 more jobs than originally calculated since employment hit bottom in September of 2009.

The state’s jobless rate fell one tenth of a percent to 5.6 percent in January.

Meanwhile, Target reported a 7 percent increase in February sales at stores open at least a year. That was stronger than the company expected. Sales at stores open a year are an important retail measure, since the number excludes the effects of recently opened or closed stores.

Also a gauge of business conditions indicates the state’s factories are likely to continue hiring at a healthy pace.

On the other hand, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis today revised downward its projection for job growth in Minnesota. Nonfarm employment is expected to grow 1.3 percent this year, down from last December’s forecast of nearly 3 percent. But the Minneapolis Fed also predicts the state’s jobless rate will be much lower by year’s end, down to 4.9 percent from the original forecast of 6.5 percent.

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