MANKATO — The number of jobs in the region was down 7.2% in February compared to a year earlier. The area’s job numbers grew a slight 0.2% from January to February.

The region’s numbers were down more than Duluth, Rochester or St. Cloud.

Local manufacturing jobs were down 11% year over year while service sector jobs were down nearly 7%. Government jobs were down 3.2%.

There were 54,393 jobs in Blue Earth and Nicollet counties in February, down 4,555 from a year ago, but up from 54,298 in January.

The figures were released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Minneapolis-St. Paul was down 8.5% year over year, Duluth down 6.5%, Rochester down 4.8% and St. Cloud down 5.9%. Minnesota’s job numbers were down 7.2% year over year.

Locally, average hourly wages fell to $25.45 in February, compared to $26.36 a year earlier.

Minnesota’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 4.3% in February, down from 4.5% in January. The decline in the unemployment rate was due to more people finding work and a decrease in the number of unemployed people, which resulted in another decline in the number of people engaged in Minnesota’s labor force.

The state’s labor force participation rate fell by a tenth of a point to 67.8% in February. It was 70.2% in February 2020, immediately before the start of the pandemic. Nationally, the unemployment rate fell one-tenth to 6.2% in February, with labor force participation staying level at 61.4%.

Minnesota gained 13,900 jobs from January to February, up 0.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis. This is 200 jobs short of the peak pandemic recovery employment in October 2020. The private sector gained 11,000 jobs in February, up 0.5% over the month, bringing private sector employment 300 jobs above peak pandemic employment reached in October.

The U.S. gained 379,000 jobs, up 0.3% over the month, in February on a seasonally adjusted basis.

“We are moving in the right direction, but we still have a lot of runway ahead for job growth,” DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said in a statement. “Given the uneven effects of the pandemic on our economy, many unemployed Minnesotans will need to consider new career opportunities from the ones they left.”

Five supersectors gained jobs, five lost jobs and Professional and Business Services held steady over the month in Minnesota.

Gains were in Leisure and Hospitality, up another 13,500 jobs or 6.9% over the month, followed by Government, up 2,900 jobs or 0.7%, Educational and Health Services, up 2,000 or 0.4%, Trade, Transportation and Utilities, up 1,700 or 0.3%, and Financial Activities, up 600 or 0.3%.

Losses were in Construction, down 3,300 jobs or 2.7%, Other Services, down 1,700 jobs or 1.7%, Manufacturing, down 1,600 jobs or 0.5%, Information, down 200 jobs or 0.5%, and Logging and Mining, down 100 jobs or 1.6%.

Minnesota lost 416,300 jobs from February through April 2020, and since April has gained 205,100 jobs, or 49.3% of the jobs lost on a seasonally adjusted basis. The private sector has regained 50.7% of the jobs lost.

Over the year in February, Minnesota shed 213,532 payroll jobs, down 7.2%. U.S. over-the-year job loss stood at 6% for both total nonfarm and private sector employment in February, a slight improvement from January. All supersectors continued to show over-the-year job loss in Minnesota and nationally.