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Minnesota's Job Market Is Getting Stronger, But Not For Everyone

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest level recorded, according to new figures released by state officials.

On Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) said that the state gained 11,500 jobs in March and the unemployment rate dropped to 2.5%. It's down from 2.7% in February, which was the lowest level recorded since 1999.

The latest national unemployment rate is 3.6%.

It's the sixth straight month of job growth for Minnesota, according to DEED. Some of the supersectors that gained jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in March included: mining and logging, trade, transportation, information and financial activities, and leisure and hospitality.

"You can throw a rock and get a truck driving job," said Clell Weinzetl of Alpha, Minnesota.

Weinzetl is taking advantage of the strong job market by trying to find a better trucking job.

And he has a wish list: "Just good pay and good hours and to be respected too," he said.

DEED Commissioner Steve Grove says it's good news for the state that more people are returning to the labor force during the job surge, but there is still work to be done.

Recovery has been uneven especially for people who are Black, older than 55, and those with lower education levels.

"When I look at some of the women we serve I can see they're still facing many of the challenges they've faced over the years, whether it be tech, education, access," said Stephanie Silvers, CEO of Dress for Success Twin Cities, which helps connect women with sustainable jobs.

"They want to be appreciated for their work and they want to be paid for their work," Silvers said. And they want benefits like healthcare and paid time off.

"Are you willing to say, 'boy everyone in my office kind of looks the same or kind of comes out of the same education levels - are we missing individuals that would help us grow?'" Silvers said.

But Silvers said there's a positive to it all: people are talking about it.

"I think there is a lot of great news here. It means our economy is coming back and we get to make money again. Let's just make sure everyone is getting a piece of the pie," Silvers said.

DEED says on average, workers saw a 5% increase in pay over the last year. Which sounds good, until you remember the inflation rate is nearly twice that, at 8.5%.

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