The Minnesota unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percent in November, with the state adding 2,000 jobs, officials reported today. It’s good news, of course, but it falls short of “glass-half-full” status once you look beyond the headline.
First, more than 200,000 Minnesotans “officially” still can’t find a job. But beyond that, the majority of business sectors are still bleeding jobs, statistics from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development appear to suggest.
Of 12 sectors listed in the department’s estimate of current places of work, employment dropped in eight of them. These included goods-producing businesses, mining & logging, construction, manufacturing, information, professional and business services, leisure & hospitality, and “other services” (auto repair, for example).
Employment was flat in financial services. Only “trade, transportation & utilities,” “education & health,” and “government” showed increases.
In fact, it appears the fastest-growing “business” in Minnesota, is education, which increased 2.4% in one month. Can government lead us out of the recession at the same time calls are increasing for less spending by government? We’ll see.
It’s also worth noting that while the unemployment rate has gone down, the number of out-of-work people has dropped only slightly. Seasonally adjusted numbers show it’s dropped by about 7,000 people, while the number of people holding jobs increased by 20,000.
This is a glimpse into the shadowy world of unemployment numbers that’s difficult for mere mortals to understand. Where did these 13,000 people come from?
So I went to my economics expert, Paul Tosto, who writes the MinnEcon blog. He states that they might be people who “came back into the labor force.”
We do know, for instance, that people get discouraged when they can’t find work so they stop looking. Of course, that brings up another important question: Who are these people who can afford to stop looking for work?
He asked Louis Johnston, a professor of economics at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University. He says the figures do not allow for determining the underlying causes of the various shifts in numbers.
Paul is in the process of sifting through the numbers and crunching them with Johnston and others. Look for his post soon.
In the meantime, tell me your story. If you’re working, how do things “feel” at the workplace compared to recent months. Have things picked up? Are people’s moods changing? Is the boss making eye contact with you again? If you’re out of work, are you getting more interviews? Are you still looking? Is there any sign of employment life out there?