Duluth leading state in job growth; Minnesota wages up $1/hour

The greater Twin Ports area saw Minnesota’s highest rate of annual job growth in August, according to statistics released Thursday.

The Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Statistical Area gained 6,198 jobs over the year, computing to 5.0% growth, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The state as a whole saw a 4.0% increase in the number of jobs, adding 109,834 jobs over the year.

Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for August was 3.8%, down one-tenth of a point since July. Wisconsin’s rate remained at 3.9% while the national rate fell two-tenths of a point to 5.2%. Local jobless rates for August have not yet been released.

Despite the job growth, Minnesota has only gained back about two-thirds of the jobs lost in the early months of the pandemic. DEED says Minnesota lost 416,300 jobs in February, March, and April 2020 and has gained 272,700 jobs since then.

DEED says Minnesota’s labor force participation rate held steady at 67.8% in August, while the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development says the Badger State’s labor force participation rate increased one-tenth of a point to 66.5%. Both are higher than the national labor force participation rate of 61.7%.

DEED’s news release reminded that because some people dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic, they are no longer considered unemployed. DEED estimates that if those people were still looking for work, Minnesota’s jobless rate wound be 6.4% rather than 3.8%.

"As fall begins we will re-double our efforts to highlight the extraordinary opportunities that exist in our economy now – and work directly with businesses and job seekers to accelerate hiring," DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said in a news release.

Many of those who are working are earning more. Because of the tight labor market, DEED says average hourly wages are up $1, or 3.2%, over the year, and average weekly hours rose 1.1% over the year.

DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek said Wisconsin’s expanding labor force shows that more people are confident and eager to get back to work, but cautions that the pandemic could still be an issue.

"In order to keep Wisconsin’s economy moving forward, we must get serious about combatting the Delta variant as COVID-19 continues to cause ripples in job markets due to many factors including supply chain issues, and consumer confidence in eating out or traveling, which directly affects the service providing sector," Pechacek said in a news release.