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MINNEAPOLIS-Minnesota’s unemployment rate for July improved by one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.6%, increasing by 8,000 jobs, according to a report released by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

All of the employment increase occurred in the service-providing industries with trade, transportation and utilities adding 3,600 jobs; government adding 3,000 jobs; education and health services adding 1,500 jobs; and leisure and hospitality adding 1,400 jobs. Goods-producing industries, including natural resources and mining; construction; and manufacturing, all came in with nearly flat employment growth over the month.

Steve Hine, research director with DEED, says that while the report alone does not signify a market turn-around, the steady decline in unemployment during the past three months speaks clearly to the positive direction of Minnesota’s job bank. He tells GlobeSt.com that construction employment had been at a steady incline for the past few months, namely because of the recent residential housing boom, which has now been surpassed by civil work from commercial construction. Hine also says that unlike much of the nation, Minnesota’s manufacturing sector has seen positive results. Industries of note include manufacturers of wood products (because of housing construction), machinery, and electro-medical products, such as pace makers and stents.

The report comes on the heels of a survey, which showed that jobs in Minnesota have become harder to come by since last year. Released earlier this week, the Minnesota Job Vacancy survey showed that job openings in the state are down by 10% from one year ago to 58,839 or five job vacancies for every 10 unemployed people.

Hine says that during the same period last year, there was a surge in available jobs, but that had been short-lived. Today’s results, he tells GlobeSt.com, gives more solidity to the market improvement claim. With that said, the usually optimistic Hine remains cautious. “There’s still obvious risks,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “There is no doubt that the fuel-price situation is going to have an offsetting and detrimental effect on consumer buying.”

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