ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in March over the previous month, but state officials say that’s largely because more people stopped looking for work.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development says Thursday that the unemployment rate in March was 5.4 percent, compared to 5.5 percent in February. But the state lost 5,200 jobs in the same period, after adding 9,900 jobs a month earlier.

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The agency points to a drop in labor force participation to explain it. That number is now 71 percent.

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Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben says Minnesota’s experience is consistent with slower job growth nationally. She also says it’s due in part to poor weather conditions that have slowed spring hiring.

Minnesota’s rate remains below the U.S. unemployment rate of 7.6 percent in March.

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