Little movement, more skepticism about MN job market

Minnesota’s unemployment rate held steady at 5.6 percent in May, as employers cut a net 900 jobs.

The payroll employment loss in April was revised to a much smaller 900 jobs from the initial report of 3,100 positions lost.

However, state officials continue to question the reliability of the employment numbers produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The chances are pretty great that these payroll survey numbers are understating our underlying strength,” Steve Hine, the state’s chief labor market analyst said Thursday.

The statistics indicate employment in government grew the most of all sectors with 1,200 jobs added. That sector has been a frequent job loser over the past year.

Hine says hiring at municipal swimming pools and golf courses seems to have ramped up earlier than usual. He says that probably boosted government payrolls last month.

“We just saw that surge there more in May this year than what we typically see in June,” he said.

Construction was another surprising bright spot in the May report, adding 800 jobs. Hine says that pushed construction’s annual growth rate to 4.5 percent.

“With that gain in construction jobs–I’d just like to report this–construction was again able to reclaim its position as the fastest growing sector over the past year. We’re certainly outpacing the nation in that sector,” Hine said.

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Several other sectors saw gains as well:

Manufacturing 900

Education and health services, 300

Trade, transportation and utilities, 200

Sectors that saw job losses include:

Professional and business services -1,600

Information -1,100

Leisure and hospitality -700

Other services -500

Financial activities -400

Even though Minnesota’s jobless rate of 5.6 percent is well below the U.S. average of 8.2 percent, Minnesota’s official annual payroll employment growth rate of 0.8 percent as of May continues to lag the national rate of 1.4 percent.

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