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State's job losses slow in May

Minnesota employers cut 1,600 jobs in May, the smallest monthly loss since August 2008, according to figures released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Over the past year, the state has lost 3.4 percent of its jobs, compared with job cuts nationwide of 4 percent.

The Minnesota unemployment rate edged up slightly from 8 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted 8.2 percent in May. The U.S. rate for May was 9.4 percent.

"It is not yet clear if we have reached a turning point in our economic recovery, but there are some optimistic signs," said DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy. "We are encouraged that the unemployment rate has held steady in recent months and that the pace of job losses appears to be slowing."

For the first time in two years, the construction sector added jobs, mainly because of new employment in highway construction and specialty trades. Construction gained 900 jobs during the month. Other sectors that added jobs were leisure and hospitality (up 7,100), government (up 800), financial activities (up 200), and education and health services (up 100). One sector, other services, held steady.

Job losses in May occurred in trade, transportation and utilities (down 7,000), manufacturing (down 2,100), information (down 700), logging and mining (down 600), and professional and business services (down 300).

Over the past year, education and health services gained 19,700 jobs, while government added 2,600 jobs.

Job losses occurred over the past 12 months in manufacturing (down 34,800), professional and business services (down 30,600), trade, transportation and utilities (down 24,500), construction (down 16,500), leisure and hospitality (down 4,900), other services (down 2,100), information (down 1,800), financial activities (down 1,700), and logging and mining (down 1,300).

In the state's Metropolitan Statistical Areas, over-the-year job losses occurred in the Minneapolis-St. Paul MSA (down 3.5 percent), Duluth-Superior MSA (down 3.7 percent), St. Cloud MSA (down 1.3 percent) and Rochester MSA (down 0.3 percent).