Rochester jobless rate hits 7-year low

The jobless rate in the Rochester metropolitan area dropped to its lowest level in seven years in October, at 3.5 percent.

The rate was down from 3.9 percent in September and 4.2 percent a year ago in October,according to numbers released by the Department of Employment and Economic Development this week.

There were just 3,622 unemployed people, down more than 600 from a year ago in the metro area, which consists of Dodge, Olmsted and Wabasha counties. However, the number of employed people also dropped by about 1,000, to 100,174.

Brent Pearson, a labor market analyst for DEED, said one reason for that is the labor market participation rate has dropped in recent years. "You're seeing that across the state — you're seeing people that are dropping out of the workforce," Pearson said.

Some discouraged workers have been without a job so long that they've stopped looking, Pearson said.


Rochester's rate remains below the Minnesota rate of 4.1 percent and nationwide rate of 7 percent. Those rates are not seasonally adjusted.

"Minnesota's unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest level in nearly six years, which highlights the continued strength of the labor market," said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. "Not only does the state have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, but we're also adding jobs -- an indicator of a growing economy on the right track."

State employers cut 8,700 jobs in September and added 9,900 jobs in October for a net gain of 1,200 jobs over the two-month period. The state has added nearly 50,000 jobs over the past year, a growth rate of 1.8 percent compared with a U.S. growth rate of 1.7 percent.

However, Rochester's growth rate over the past year was slower, at just 0.2 percent, lagging state's the other four metro areas.

Rochester's jobless rate remains low by historic standards. A jobless rate of 4 percent is considered by some economists to be full employment, a condition where anyone who wants a job can get one.

The rate in the 11-county southeastern Minnesota region was 3.8 percent, with the lowest rate in Olmsted and Wabasha counties at 3.5 percent, and the highest rate in Rice County at 4.4 percent. The region's rate was 4.5 percent in October 2012.

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