Minnesota’s unemployment rate fell to 6% in September

    A nail salon, as pictured on May 20, 2020, is one of many Minnesota businesses shuttered as part of the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rilyn Eischens/Minnesota Reformer

    Minnesota’s unemployment rate fell to 6% in September, down from 7.4% in August as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to stress businesses and workers.

    But there may not be cause for celebration yet — the decline was caused in part by a drop in the state’s labor force participation rate, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

    The percentage of Minnesotans who are looking for work fell 1.3 percentage points last month, representing about 56,000 workers who dropped out of the workforce. The state’s labor force participation rate in September reached its lowest point in over 40 years, at 68.4%.

    In September, 182,763 Minnesotans were jobless. People of color are still most affected by the economic downturn, with 16.5% of Black workers and 9.7% of Latino workers unemployed last month.

    The state’s unemployment rate is in line with the national rate, which declined from 8.4% in August to 7.9% in September.

    Minnesota added 14,800 payroll jobs in September, reflecting a slower growth rate than the month before, when 40,500 jobs were added. The state’s number of jobs has declined nearly 7% — more than 203,000 jobs — compared to September 2019. The leisure and hospitality industry has been hit the hardest, with the number of payroll positions down 25.4% over the year.

    More than 960,000 Minnesotans have applied for unemployment benefits since March. The number of applicants doesn’t match the unemployment rate because it includes people who may be back at work after receiving benefits. Workers can receive benefits if their hours have been cut or they’re furloughed, while the unemployment rate only counts people who are not working.

    Rilyn Eischens
    Rilyn Eischens is a data reporter with the Reformer. Rilyn is a Minnesota native 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.