Apr. 15—MANKATO — The local area had 5% fewer jobs in March compared to a year earlier, but grew jobs by 1% compared to February.
Blue Earth and Nicollet counties combined had 55,098, down 2,922 jobs year over year, according to numbers released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
The local manufacturing sector was hit harder, posting 9.4% fewer jobs in March than a year earlier. Service sector jobs were off 4.1% while government was down 2.8%.
The local average hourly wage fell to $24.86 compared to $26.35 in March 2020.
The Mankato region was in the middle of the pack for job losses among regional centers. Minneapolis-St. Paul had 6.7% fewer jobs year over year in March, Duluth was down 5.6%, St. Cloud was down 4.9%, and Rochester was down 4.6%.
April's job numbers should begin to better tell how the region and state are rebounding from the job losses fueled by the pandemic. In mid-March of last year Gov. Tim Walz ordered the work-at-home order, but significant job losses didn't show up until April. In March of last year there were 58,020 jobs in Blue Earth and Nicollet counties, a number that fell to 50,828 in April.
Minnesota's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 4.2% in March, down from a revised 4.4% in February, according to DEED.
The unemployment rate decline was due to people leaving the labor force primarily from unemployment but also from employment. Minnesota's labor force participation rate decreased from 68% to 67.8%, dropping back to where it sat in April 2020. It was 70.2% in February 2020, prior to the pandemic recession. Nationally, the unemployment rate fell two-tenths to 6%, with labor force participation up one-tenth point to 61.5%.
Minnesota gained 21,600 jobs, up .8%, in March on a seasonally adjusted basis. This puts Minnesota 19,900 jobs above the state's previous pandemic peak in October 2020. The private sector gained 23,300 jobs, up 1%, bringing private sector employment 21,700 jobs above its October 2020 level. The U.S. gained 916,000 jobs, up 0.6% over the month, in March on a seasonally adjusted basis.
"It's good to see Minnesota's job growth reach its highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic, but we still have a long ways to go," DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said in a statement. "There are over 100,000 job postings in the state, and we need to make sure more Minnesotans are aware of these opportunities to get back into the labor force."
The deepest impacts of the pandemic continue to be felt by Minnesotans from Black, Indigenous and people of color communities. Based on 12-month moving averages, the unemployment rate for Black Minnesotans was 9% in March, down from 9.2% in February and up from 4.5% one year ago. The Latinx unemployment rate was 7.7% in March, up from 7.5% in February and up from 4.6% one year ago. White Minnesotans were at 5.9% in March, the same as in February, and up from 3% one year ago.
Over-the-year job losses in Minnesota were still greatest in Leisure & Hospitality, down 21.5% or 54,691 jobs. Other supersectors with a high share of job losses were Information, down 12.0% or 5,427 jobs; Other Services, down 10.9% or 12,291 jobs; Mining & Logging, down 6.7% or 426 jobs; Government down 5.1% or 21,842 jobs; and Professional & Business Services, down 5% or 18,697 jobs over the year.