Minnesota employers appeared to pull out last month after adding a slew of jobs earlier this year.
The state lost 5,700 jobs in March, according to Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) data released Thursday.
At the same time, the state’s unemployment rate fell by a tenth of a percentage point, to 2.8%. By comparison, the US unemployment rate for March was 3.5%.
“There are some mixed messages in these numbers,” said DEED Interim Commissioner Kevin McKinnon.
The conflicting data points — job losses at a time of low unemployment — are because the information comes from two different surveys, one of employers and one of households, which don’t always completely coincide.
The weather may have contributed to lower job numbers last month, said Angelina Nguyen, director of labor market information at DEED.
“We had a snowy winter this year, and that could have affected how we build and manufacture [and other industries operated]She said.
She added that the job numbers are estimates that DEED will review and often fluctuate in the short term.
“This is not indicative of anything bad economically,” she said. “Our unemployment rate remains very low. More people are moving out of unemployment into employment. So this is just a natural fluctuation of the data.”
McKinnon noted that jobless claims in Minnesota have been fairly stable compared to what the state sees in normal years at this time of year.
“There were some announcements of potential layoffs… and some were already moving from one place to another,” he said. “But in general there is nothing out of the order of what we might see in the pre-pandemic period.”
The job losses reported in March stand in contrast to the additions of 8,700 jobs in February – a lower revised number – and the 14,200 jobs added in January.
The February rally initially meant that Minnesota had for the first time fully recovered all of the private sector jobs lost in the pandemic. But including the March number, the state has now fallen below that threshold, and is now a few thousand jobs below that.
Trade, transportation and utilities led job losses last month with 2,300 jobs. This was followed by cutting 1,900 jobs in construction, 1,300 jobs in manufacturing and 1,200 jobs in professional and business services.
Few sectors saw positive growth and additional jobs: 700 in leisure and hospitality, 600 in education and health services, and 400 in government.
“The good news this month is that wage growth is close to keeping pace with the rate of inflation,” Nguyen said.
Wages in Minnesota rose 4.5% in March compared to a year ago, just below the 5% inflation rate in the US.
When compared to the Twin Cities CPI, which slowed to 3.4% last month, wages have now risen above inflation.
Workforce participation in the state held steady last month at 68%.