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Minn. Unemployment Dips To 6.5 Percent In April

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(credit: Jupiter Images)

(credit: Jupiter Images)

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota’s unemployment rate edged down a tenth of a percentage point to a seasonally adjusted 6.5 percent in April, though the state lost 5,200 jobs — a decline officials said was largely because of poor weather.

The state figure is still well below April’s national rate of 9 percent, which was up from 8.8 percent a month earlier.

The figures Thursday from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development showed that the state’s job losses in April were mostly due to difficulty in the construction sector. That was offset some by the state revising upward the number of jobs gained a month earlier.

Steve Hine, DEED Labor Market Information Office research director, said April’s lousy weather fizzled out the seasonal hiring increases that are typically seen across the state.

“I really do believe that a lot of this weakness here was related to the weather,” Hine said.

Commissioner Mark Phillips drew a parallel between April’s job losses and the drop in fishing license purchased by the season opener.

“People didn’t open their cabins in April like usual,” Phillips said.

The lag in construction contributed to weakness in the specialty trade sector, areas like pluming, carpentry and subcontracting. That’s because those sectors typically rely on new construction before they can work, Hine said.

Leisure and hospitality led all sectors in April, gaining 3,100 jobs. Within that figure, bars, restaurants and lodging showed significant increases, Hine said. Recreation, however, showed a loss. In early April, only two-thirds of the golf courses in Minnesota were open, Hine said.

Professional business services gained 2,600 jobs in April. That sector led the others over the past year, gaining 8,300 jobs in total.

The numbers illustrate how vulnerable Minnesota jobs are to seasonal variation, Hine said.

“I look forward to seeing what May’s numbers produce before I conclude there’s either underlying weakness,” he said, “or whether it really, truly was a weather-related blip.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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