Minnesota's jobs train continued to roll on in November, adding another 6,800 jobs to the books, while the state's unemployment rate ticked up to 2.3%.
The jobs and unemployment data come from two separate surveys — one of employers and one of households — that don't always perfectly sync up.
Minnesota's jobless rate ticked up two-tenths of a percentage point last month and has been slowly but steadily rising this fall after hitting a record low of 1.8% in June and July.
"It's still very low if you look historically," said Oriane Casale, interim director of the labor-market information office for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. "It got so low in the summer that I would have been very surprised if it continued to decrease."
And it's still quite a bit lower than the U.S. unemployment rate of 3.7%. Minnesota will find out on Friday if it has held on to the No. 1 spot, which it has held for several months in a row, with the lowest state unemployment rate in the U.S..
At the same time, the state has also been seeing progress in narrowing racial disparities in unemployment. After climbing to more than triple the white jobless rate earlier this year, the Black unemployment rate in Minnesota has been declining this fall and came in at 4.3% in November, down from 5% the month before.
The white unemployment rate held steady at 2.1%, and the jobless rate for Latino workers rose slightly to 3.9%. These figures are based on 12-month moving averages because of the smaller sample sizes.
While the number of job openings in the state has been trending down in recent months, the state still has the tightest labor market in the U.S. with 3.2 job openings for every unemployed person, compared to 1.7 for the U.S.
That has led employers to make bigger-than-usual pay increases to attract workers. Wages in Minnesota rose 5.7% in November from a year ago, a slightly slower pace than the month before but still higher than the U.S. average of 5.3% last month.
The labor force participation rate held steady at 67.9%, but the state still has about 90,000 fewer workers compared to before the pandemic.
Minnesota's steady job growth last month came on the heels of a blockbuster October when the state gained 17,100 jobs, a number which was slightly revised downward but is still the most added in a single month so far this year.
While the state has seen other months of even bigger job gains this year, Casale said the November tally of 6,800 jobs was strong compared to the same month in pre-pandemic years.
"It's a very good number for November," she said.
The state matched the U.S. pace of job growth last month and has continued to see strong demand for workers despite efforts from the Federal Reserve to cool off high inflation — and the economy — through a series of rapid interest rate hikes.
"There's been some talk nationally about layoffs," Casale said. "In the scope of things, we're still at a very low number of layoffs. Employers are reluctant to lay people off and just not having a reason to because of continued demand."
Job gains last month were led by government with 3,300 jobs, nearly all of them in local government. That was followed by manufacturing with 1,800 jobs, professional and business services with 1,500 jobs, and education and health services with 1,400 jobs.
That was partially offset by a loss of 2,300 jobs in construction and 500 jobs in other services.
The state has now recovered about 92% of the 417,600 jobs it lost it lost in the spring of 2020. Meanwhile, the U.S. has fully recovered jobs lost in the pandemic.