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Published March 19 2009

Minnesota's unemployment rate hits 8.1 percent

ST. PAUL (AP) — Minnesota's unemployment rate continued to climb in February, hitting a seasonally adjusted 8.1 percent as the state shed another 13,300 jobs.

The state Department of Employment and Economic Development reported Thursday that the state's February unemployment rate nearly matches that of the nation as a whole.

"The global recession has touched nearly all business sectors, here and elsewhere in the country," said DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy in a prepared statement.

"But we saw some signs of improvement in Minnesota in February, including a slowdown in the number of jobs lost and a slightly better labor force participation rate," he said.

Minnesota's unemployment rate was 7.5 percent in January, when the state lost 18,500 jobs.

Minnesota has lost 3.2 percent of its jobs in the past 12 months, nearly mirroring the national rate of 3.1 percent. In real terms, Minnesota lost nearly 86,000 jobs since February 2008.

From January to February, the education and health care sector added 2,100 jobs. The biggest month-to-month loser was manufacturing, which lost 5,100 jobs.

Those sectors were also among the high and low spots in the labor market in the past 12 months. Education and health care added 15,600 jobs since February 2008, while manufacturing dropped 25,700 jobs — close to the 27,600 jobs lost in professional and business services.

The February report also said that all the metro areas with data available have now lost jobs in the past 12 months, including Minneapolis-St. Paul, down 60,900 jobs; Duluth-Superior, down 3,100; St. Cloud, down 1,200; and Rochester, down 200.

Rochester, with its strong health care industry, was in positive territory for the 12 months ending in January. DEED didn't report results for the Fargo-Moorhead and Grand Forks-East Grand Forks metro areas on Thursday because the data from North Dakota was not available.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.