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More Minnesotans return to work, job growth outpaces U.S. 

The state’s unemployment rate ticks down as labor force participation inches up.

4 mins read

Minnesota gained 17,100 jobs, up 0.6 percent in September on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to numbers released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). 

Minnesota’s private sector gained 17,700 jobs, up 0.7 percent in September. The U.S. gained 194,000 jobs, up 0.1 percent in September, with the private sector adding 317,000 jobs, up 0.3 percent.  

Minnesota’s unemployment rate ticked down one-tenth of a percentage pointto 3.7 percent in September due to people moving out of unemployment and into employment. The U.S. unemployment rate fell four-tenths of a percentage point to 4.8 percent in September. Minnesota’s labor force participation rate inched up one-tenth of a percentage point to 67.9 percent. The U.S. labor force participation rate ticked down one-tenth of a percentage point to 61.6 percent in September. 

Minnesota lost 416,300 jobs from February through April 2020 and has since gained 289,700 jobs, or 70 percent of the jobs lost on a seasonally adjusted basis. The private sector has regained 72 percent of the jobs lost. 

“Job growth is up, and so are wages – that’s a good thing,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “Still, our labor market is incredibly tight, and our agency is committed to continuing to invest in innovative partnerships and solutions to help businesses find workers.” 

Average wages in Minnesota and nationally have gone up significantly over the past year as a result of the tight labor market. Average hourly earnings for all private sector workers rose 25 cents to $32.97 in September over the month. Over the year, average hourly earnings rose $1.17, up 3.7 percent and since September 2019 they are up 7.4 percent. Nationally private sector wages rose 4.7 percent over the year and 8.9 percent over two years. Looking back further, the average annual percent change between September 2007 and September 2021 in Minnesota was 2.9 percent for all private sector worker compared to 3.7 percent over the year in 2021, so average wages recently have risen faster than is typical.  

At 34.2 hours per week, September’s average work week in Minnesota was one hour shorter than in August but up 0.6 percent from one year ago. Since Sept 2019 hours are up 0.3 percent in Minnesota. Nationally, hours are up 0.3 percent over the year but down 0.3 percent since September 2019. 

Many Minnesotans continue to be out of work, but the employment impact of the pandemic on workers has been difficult to measure. The pandemic caused some people to drop out of the workforce, lowering labor force participation, which resulted in an unemployment rate below what would be expected given job losses. The table below accounts for this by showing an adjusted unemployment rate that includes both Minnesotans who are looking for work now and who would have been expected to be working or looking for work if it wasn’t for the impact of the pandemic.   

Month/ Year Total Black Hispanic/Latino White 
Sep-21 6.3  8.4  5.1  5.9  
Aug-21 6.4  8.4  4.7  5.9  
Sep-20 6.2  14.8  9.2  5.4 

Over the month in Minnesota, seven supersectors gained jobs in September and four lost jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. 

  • Gains were in Leisure & Hospitality, up 9,800 jobs, Trade, Transportation & Utilities, up 2,600 jobs, Professional & Business Services up 2,400 jobs, Construction up 2,300 jobs, Educational & Health Services, up 1,900 jobs, Information up 100 jobs, and Mining & Logging up 100 jobs.   
  • Losses were in Financial Activities down 900 jobs, Government, down 600 jobs, Manufacturing down 400 jobs and Other Services down 200 jobs. Losses in Financial Activities were in both Finance and Insurance as well as Real Estate & Rental/Leasing. Losses in Government were all in State Government, with Local Government holding steady from August. Losses in Manufacturing were in Durable Goods. 

Over the year in Minnesota, payroll jobs are up 107,597 or 3.9 percent. The private sector gained 105,656 jobs, up 4.4 percent over the year. U.S. employment grew 4.0 percent over the year with the private sector up 4.7 percent. In Minnesota, all but two supersectors showed gains over the year. Information and Financial Activities continued to show over the year losses, down 2,018 (-4.8 percent) and 2.028 (-1.1 percent) respectively. Four supersectors in Minnesota now show strength over the year compared to the U.S.: Leisure & Hospitality, Construction, Professional & Business Services and Manufacturing.   

Employment rose over the year in all Minnesota Metropolitan Statistical Areas. 

Minnesota and U.S. Employment and Unemployment – September 2021 

  Seasonally Adjusted Not Seasonally Adjusted 
Unemployment Rate Sept. 2021  Aug. 2021 Sept. 2021 Sept. 2020 
Minnesota 3.7% 3.8% 2.8% 5.5% 
U.S. 4.8% 5.2% 4.6% 7.7% 
Non-Farm Jobs Sept. 2021 Aug. 2021 Sept. ’20- Sept.’21 Level Change Sept. ’20-Sept.’21 % Change 
Minnesota 2,869,700 2,852,600 107,597 3.9% 
U.S. 147,553,000 147,359,000 5,736,000 4.0% 

Minnesota and U.S. Over-the-Year (OTY) Employment Change, Not Seasonally Adjusted: September 2020-September 2021 

 Industry Supersector OTY Job Change OTY Growth Rate (%) U.S. OTY Growth Rate (%) 
Total   107,597 3.9 4.0 
Private   105,656 4.4 4.7 
Mining & Logging  232 3.6 8.7 
Construction  10,032 7.6 2.8 
Manufacturing  11,224 3.7 2.7 
Trade, Transport. & Utilities  13,924 2.8 3.4 
Information  -2,018 -4.8 5.6 
Financial Activities  -2,028 -1.1 1.6 
Prof. & Business Services  21,275 6.0 5.4 
Ed. & Health Services  4,457 0.8 2.2 
Leisure & Hospitality  44,097 20.7 14.6 
Other Services  4,461 4.5 5.4 
Government  1,941 0.5 0.5 

Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) Over-the-Year (OTY) Employment Change, Not Seasonally Adjusted: September 2020-September 2021 

Metropolitan Statistical Area OTY Employment Change OTY Employment Change (%) 
Minneapolis-St. Paul MN-WI MSA  61,641 3.3 
Duluth-Superior MN-WI MSA  4,571 3.6 
Rochester MSA  4.636 3.9 
St. Cloud MSA  1,931 1.8 
Mankato MSA  1,087 2.0 

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