ST. PAUL — The unemployment rate ticked town slightly to 4% in Minnesota last month, according to the latest figures from the state Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Having added 14,800 private sector jobs, the state in May recorded its fifth straight month of job gains. The state's labor force participation rate also increased for the first time in three months, and is up two-tenths of a percentage point to 67.9%.

That suggests more Minnesotans are either returning to work or actively searching for it and contrasts with recent dips in the state unemployment rate, which were attributed to residents leaving the workforce, or the sum of employed and unemployed person, altogether.

At a virtual news conference Thursday, June 17, DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said May's decrease was for the right reasons.

"Minnesotans are getting back to work," he said.

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Grove emphasized that some of the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic posted the strongest job gains last month. The hospitality and leisure sector, beset by state-ordered closures and capacity restrictions for much of the last year, last month added 6,000 jobs, more than any other sector.

Of the 416,300 jobs eliminated between February and April 2020, during the initial outbreak of COVID-19, Minnesota as of last month has recovered nearly 250,000, or 60.0%. On an seasonally unadjusted basis, the state's unemployment rate in May of last year measured 11%.

The latest dip in unemployment was complimented by a slight bump in private sector wages. Over the month in May, average hourly earnings in Minnesota rose 13 cents to $32.56.

Hourly earnings were up 73 cents, or about 2.3%, over the year.

All but three of Minnesota's "super sectors" added jobs over the month in May with employment in the mining and logging sector remained steady. Government employment in Minnesota was down 2,500 jobs, while transportation and utilities lost 2,300. The information sector lost 200 jobs.