By WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — State officials say Minnesota’s unemployment rate dropped significantly in October. However, they noted that the main reason for the drop is that more Minnesotans are leaving the workforce.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development says that the state’s unemployment rate fell to 4.6% last month, down from nearly 6% in September. While that state did add more than 13,000 payroll jobs in October, the chief reason for the unemployment drop was that a significant number of Minnesotans are no longer seeking work.

October marked the second consecutive month with a declining labor force participation rate, a measure of the state’s active workforce. According to officials, labor force participation fell to 67.4% in October, down from 68.5% in September. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Minnesota’s labor participation rate was at 70.2%.

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In a statement, DEED Commissioner Steve Groves said that while many businesses have face unprecedented challenges throughout the pandemic — and more challenges are in the near-term future as COVID restrictions tighten — many companies are still hiring. He urged job-seekers to speak with DEED counselors for help finding work.

Unemployment connected to the pandemic peaked in May, during the state’s stay-at-home order. At its height, the number of unemployed Minnesotans was over 300,000. As of October, that number has dropped 137,359. However, as the state enters another grim phase of the pandemic, lawmakers in Washington have yet to come to an agreement on a second round of stimulus, as such there is less help for businesses and those struggling to get by.

Nationally, the unemployment rate decreased by 1 percentage point last month to 6.9%, and the labor force participation rate increased slightly to 61.7%.

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