ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Minnesota's unemployment rate ticked down to 3.8 percent in August as private-sector employers added 6,200 jobs, weaker than the pace in previous months.
The state has regained 272,700 of the 416,300 jobs lost at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, or 67 percent, Minnesota economic development officials said in a Thursday news release.
Minnesota's labor market remains tight, benefitting workers in the form of higher wages. Average hourly wages in the private sector have increased by $1, or 3.2 percent, over the past year and $2.42, or 8 percent, since August 2019. But inflation has eroded pay gains this summer, as consumer prices in the U.S. have risen 5 percent or more for the past four months.
"I can share anecdotally in talking to employers, I have not heard employers tell me they’re slowing down hiring or giving up," Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove told reporters Thursday.
Manufacturing led August's gains with 2,300 new jobs. Leisure and hospitality, which was hammered during state-mandated closures during the pandemic, added 2,000 jobs during the month.
Minnesota's labor force participation rate has stabilized in 2021 but the state still has 97,000 fewer people employed or looking for work compared with pre-pandemic levels.
Grove said the availability of child care and the surge of the Delta variant would strain the economy with students back in school and entering the cooler fall months.
"I think there’s a sense of we’ve got to get these next few months right in our economy if we want to see it grow and a big part of that is how we manage this public health situation and the way employers and government work together on this," he said.