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Published June 15 2012

Unemployment drops below 3 percent in North Dakota

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 2.7 percent in May, but even that isn’t a record low for the state.

The lowest May rate in at least 25 years occurred in 2001 when it was 2.3 percent, said Michael Ziesch, manager of Job Service North Dakota’s Labor Market Information Center.

However, the labor force also had 44,355 fewer people in May 2001, he said.

“That makes our current rate pretty impressive,” he said.

The May 2012 rate is a 0.4 percentage point decrease from April’s 3.1 percent and 0.5 percentage points less than one year ago, according to Job Service North Dakota. The national not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May was 7.9 percent.

October is historically the lowest unemployment rate month, Ziesch said. In 1997, North Dakota’s not seasonally adjusted rate was 1.7 percent.

North Dakota had 391,859 people in the labor force in May compared with 384,211 one year ago.

Employers reported an estimated 26,700 more jobs compared with a year ago, a 6.8 percent gain, according to Job Service North Dakota.

Private industry sectors that led in job growth include mining and logging (6,600 jobs added); professional and business services (4,600); construction (3,400); and transportation, warehousing and utilities (3,400).

Job Service North Dakota reported 23,350 online job openings in May, 2.9 percent (709 jobs) fewer than April but 55.8 percent more (8,362 jobs) than one year ago.

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Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.