See more of the story

ROCHESTER — The end of the summer and ongoing economic trends led to the Rochester area losing jobs in August, the first time that's happened since January.

The Rochester Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Dodge, Fillmore, Olmsted and Wabasha counties, lost about 300 jobs — about .2% — last month according to the most recent state data.

Local job growth is still up 2.2% — a little over 2,700 jobs — over this time last year.

State officials say Rochester is more closely mirroring the rest of Minnesota, despite the area's strong economic recovery since the beginning of the pandemic. Department of Employment and Economic Development staff say the slight dip in the Rochester area better reflects normal economic trends rather than the wild swings some parts of the state saw over the past few years.

"It feels like this is a more regular seasonal pattern with these labor force constraints we're having," said Cameron Macht, a regional analyst with DEED.

The area's unemployment rate slightly increased from 1.7% in July to 1.8% last month. The local labor force shrank by about 900 people in August, while a little more than 70 people sought employment compared to July.

Even then, Rochester is doing better than most of Minnesota. The only metropolitan area with a lower unemployment rate is Mankato at 1.7% unemployment.

Rochester and surrounding communities lost about 130 retail and trade jobs in August, while the area's mining, logging and construction industry lost about 80 jobs and government-related work dropped about 180 jobs. Both industries are still above pre-pandemic levels.

At the same time, Rochester's education and health services industry added about 120 jobs, while the leisure and hospitality industry added about 40 jobs, bringing that sector closer to where it was at before the pandemic.

The labor market in Minnesota continues to be tight as job vacancies are still high across the state. A recent labor study showed there are four vacancies for every one unemployed person, according to Macht.