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State jobless rate at turning point

Associated Press

ST. PAUL -- A decline in new unemployment claims during the first quarter indicates that Minnesota's weak job markets may be approaching a turning point, according to a state analysis.

During the first quarter, seasonally adjusted new jobless claims dipped below an average of 25,000 per month for the first time since the first quarter of 2001.

Claims per month during 2004's first quarter were still high, averaging 24,925, when compared to a pre-recession year like 1999, when 15,590 claims per month represented the norm.

And seasonally adjusted jobless claims in Minnesota were actually up slightly in March compared to the two previous months.

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But the new analysis of more than 30 years of data shows that 25,000 jobless claims per month is sort of a magic number in Minnesota.

When new unemployment claims start rising above the 25,000 mark in Minnesota, as they did during the second quarter of 2001, net employment starts to retreat within a few months, said Steve Hine, labor market research director for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

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