Minnesota’s unemployment rate declined slightly to 4.3% in February, from 4.5% the month before, as some people were able to return to work while others stopped looking and left the labor force.

The state also recovered 13,900 jobs last month. Most of the growth from the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector, which gained back 13,500 jobs.

Government, educational and health services, trade and transportation, and financial activities also saw modest job gains, according to the data released this morning by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Meanwhile, some sectors shed some jobs in February. Construction was down 3,300 jobs, other services declined by 1,700 jobs, and manufacturing lost 1,600 jobs.

The jobs recovery last month was not as big as in January when the state gained back 51,800 jobs, a larger bounceback as indoor dining and other services were able to resume at limited capacity after state restrictions were eased up.

“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.”

With February’s jobs numbers, the state is now just 200 jobs shy of the peak pandemic recovery employment it reached in October, DEED said. But it still has a long way to go. Minnesota has only recovered about 49% of the 416,300 jobs it lost in the first few months of the pandemic.

The state’s labor force participation rate also fell by a tenth of a point in February to 67.8%. It was at 70.2% a year ago before the pandemic took hold.

But Minnesota continues to fare better than the nation as a whole. The U.S. unemployment rate fell slightly in February to 6.2% and the nation’s labor force participation held steady at 61.4%.

People of color continue to face higher levels of unemployment. The unemployment rate for Black Minnesotans, based on a 12-month moving average, declined slightly to 9.2% in February, from 9.5% the month before. The Latino unemployment rate inched up to 7.5% in February, from 7.3% in January.

Kavita Kumar • 612-673-4113 Twitter: @kavitakumar

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