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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - State officials say the COVID pandemic restrictions put in place in November were largely responsible for the net loss of almost 50,000 jobs in Minnesota last month.

The monthly jobs report from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development shows, despite the job losses, the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell a tenth of a point in December to 4.4 percent. That matches the jobless rate from last December even though Minnesota has lost over 238,000 jobs during the past year with about half of those job losses in the Leisure and Hospitality sector of the economy.

DEED Commissioner Steve Grove attributes the reduction in the jobless rate to people leaving the workforce. The report shows the Labor Force Participation Rate dropped nearly a half-point to 67.5 in December. A year ago, that rate was 70.3 percent.

“Today’s employment data confirms what we’ve expected – the spike in cases in late fall had an impact on the economy,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “The predictable loss of jobs that accompanied the sacrifice that businesses and workers had to make may turn out to be temporary, as just 10% of those surveyed said their job loss was permanent.”

Locally, overall employment in the Rochester area is down by over 7700 jobs when compared to December of last year. That works out to a negative job growth rate of 6.3 percent.

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