MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – State officials say Minnesota added 8,700 private sector jobs last month and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.1 percent.

Meanwhile, there was also a significant drop in unemployment for the state’s black population.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development says that in December the 12-month average black unemployment rate hit 7.5 percent, the lowest recorded since officials began keeping track of demographic information is 2001.

(credit: DEED)

The rate is down from a high of over 20 percent in the early ’00s.

Still, the black unemployment rate is more than double the rate for whites, which remains unchanged at 2.9 percent. The Hispanic unemployment rate is at 5 percent.

“As we enter 2018, we continue to make progress on ending Minnesota’s economic disparities, and all economic indicators point to continued growth in the state’s labor market,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. “Still, we have more work to do to connect all Minnesotans, specifically people of color, indigenous communities and people with disabilities, to employment and training opportunities to ensure that they succeed in today’s economy.”

Most of the new jobs gained last month (5,700) were in construction. Other industries that saw growth were education, health services, trade, transportation, and utilities.

Over the last year, the state has gained 44,200 jobs, with a growth rate of 1.5 percent, DEED says. The national growth rate is also at 1.5 percent.