The Potluck

Minnesota’s jobless rate is lowest since 2019, but economic recovery remains uneven

By: - January 20, 2022 1:52 pm

A we’re-hiring sign is posted outside of a Target store on Feb. 12, 2019 in Sausalito, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Minnesota’s unemployment rate fell to 3.1% in December, compared to 3.3% the month before, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced Thursday. 

That is Minnesota’s lowest unemployment rate since 2019. The decline in the unemployment rate last month was caused by job-seekers getting hired, according to DEED; at other points in the pandemic, improvements in the unemployment rate have been caused by people leaving the workforce entirely.

Despite the improvements in employment, Minnesota’s labor force participation rate didn’t budge from 67.7% — the state’s lowest rate in more than 40 years. Some workers have stopped seeking jobs for a number of reasons, including early retirement, concerns over COVID-19 and lack of child care.

Still, Minnesota’s labor force participation rate remains far higher than the national rate of 61.9%.

Minnesota also lost 2,000 jobs in December — a decline of about 0.1%. The decrease followed a jump in job growth in November, DEED noted, when the state gained 8,600 jobs.

“Today’s jobs report is a reminder that economic progress in these times is not a straight line,” DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said in a news release.

Minnesota lost 416,300 jobs between February 2020 and April 2020 and has since gained back 307,400 of them, or roughly 74% of jobs lost. 

Black workers remain hardest hit by job loss. The unemployment rate for demographic groups has been difficult to track given the volatile labor market, according to DEED, so the agency has turned to adjusted unemployment rates based on 12-month moving averages. Under this calculation, DEED estimates overall unemployment was at about 6.2% in December 2021, and 11.1% for Black workers, 2.7% for Latino workers and 5.4% for white workers.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.