Minnesota jobless rate falls to 6 percent, but fewer seeking jobs

A window message for hiring at a Mexican fast-food restaurant
A window message at a Mexican fast-food restaurant advertises for job hiring Thursday, April 23 in St. Paul. Minnesota's unemployment rate dropped sharply last month but it corresponded with a significant dip in the number of people seeking work.
Jim Mone | AP Photo file

Minnesota's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped sharply last month to 6 percent, down from 7.4 percent in August, but that decrease was due mostly to a significant dip in the number of people seeking work, state officials said Thursday.

Tens of thousands of Minnesotans told surveyors they had stopping looking for work last month. The decreased labor participation rate is problematic for Minnesota because many businesses are short-staffed and looking for more workers.

“We want people to know that Minnesota employers are hiring now, Steve Grove, commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development, said in a statement.

Nearly 15,000 jobs were added to Minnesota payrolls in September, Grove’s office said.

At 68.4 percent, Minnesota’s workforce participation rate is still higher than the 61.4 percent for the nation, “but you never want to see that rate go down, especially at a time when there are a lot of firms hiring,” Grove said.

The state’s workforce participation rate has been relatively volatile, said Oriane Casale, interim director of DEED’s labor market information office.

"It has been bouncing around a lot, I think because during this uncertain period of time people really actually do go from sometimes looking to having to take care of family members to then getting back to look for work,” she said.

Unemployment is higher for communities of color in Minnesota. The six-month average unemployment rate for Black Minnesotans stands at 16.5 percent — three times what it was one year ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The jobless rate for Latino Minnesotan is 9.7 percent, up from 3.1 percent a year ago.

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