Minnesota unemployment sinks to all-time low, disparities remain

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According to data released Thursday, Minnesota’s unemployment rate hit the lowest ever recorded last month.

The unemployment rate reached an all-time low of 1.8% in June 2022, according to figures released by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). This was the lowest it has been since hitting 2.5% in early 1999.

DEED attributed the decline entirely to Minnesotans finding more opportunities. But the employment recovery has not been consistent for all Minnesotans. 

Minnesota has seen a job growth rate of 1.6%, faster than the U.S. growth rate of 1.5% since January 2022, according to DEED. The state added 7,500 jobs in May 2022 and another hundred last month. However, the private sector did lose 400 jobs this June. 

DEED Commissioner Steve Grove explained that the challenge is actually a historically low labor market. Grove released a statement that read in part, “we’re still down just over 72,000 people in our labor force since before the pandemic.”

Grove explained that DEED is working to help employers find workers in labor pools they may have previously overlooked. One of these untapped labor pools includes Minnesota’s aging workforce. Another overlooked demographic may be Black and Hispanic Minnesotans.

The employment recovery has affected Minnesota’s Black and Hispanic communities differently. June 2022 records show that Black and Hispanic Minnesotans have higher labor force participation rates than white Minnesotans, at 68.9%, 79.7%, and 68.4%, respectively. But, the data also shows that Black Minnesotans have an unemployment rate of 7.4% and Hispanic Minnesotans at 3.1% compared to white workers, at 2.4%. “This indicates that employers must continue to employ new strategies to find available workers from communities of color in Minnesota.”

Despite the overall rise in employment, Minnesota wages are not keeping up with the rate of inflation. Average hourly wages for all private sector workers rose 5.2% over the year, while the CPI inflation rose 9.0% over the year.