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The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has retested hundreds of substances that were first tested at the St. Paul lab, where drug testing has been suspended amid concerns over lax procedures. (File photo: Bill Klotz)

Minnesota unemployment rate up in July

Minnesota’s unemployment rate is up and its job count is down, according to new data for July.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reported Thursday that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was at 4 percent. It’s the first highest since May 2014 and a tick above the 3.9 percent for June.

Minnesota’s rate compares with a 5.3 percent rate nationally.

State figures show 3,900 jobs were shed last month, the most coming in leisure and hospitality, construction and trade, transportation and utilities sectors. Some of those losses were offset by gains in government, professional and business services and financial activities.

Over the past year, there have been almost 44,000 jobs added to the Minnesota workforce.

Minnesota’s construction sector shed 2,000 jobs in July, but the losses suggest a return to normalcy after a strong post-recession comeback rather than a slowdown.

State data compares last month’s performance with job gains made in July in recent years, driven by stimulus funding and demand that built up during the downturn. The apartment construction boom and major public projects like the new Vikings stadium also boosted construction hiring.

The sector actually added 2,361 jobs last month on an unadjusted basis, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. But seasonally adjusted construction job losses fed into the state’s overall 3,900-job drop for July. That’s still a long way from offsetting year-over-year unadjusted gains of 43,719 jobs – a growth rate of 1.5 percent.

Other detractors from Minnesota’s labor market in July include the leisure and hospitality sector, down 3,700 jobs for the month – the only sector to cut more than construction on a seasonally adjusted basis. Trade, transportation and utilities dropped 1,700 positions, while education and health services lost 1,200.

Manufacturing outfits, dragged down by food manufacturers, lopped off 300 and other services lost 100.

Government, on the other hand, posted 2,700 new jobs in July, outmatching gains in professional and business services – up 1,400 – and financial activities, which added 500 positions. Meanwhile, logging and mining employers tacked on 300 jobs and information added 200.

Staff writer Karlee Weinmann contributed to this report.

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