Minnesota has officially recovered all jobs lost in the recession, according to seasonally-adjusted figures released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
State economists waited a long time to be able to make the announcement that Minnesota has rebounded; however, there are still 153,000 unemployed Minnesotans. That has some people feeling reluctant to celebrate.
"We're not there yet. We still have too many people who are not employed or underemployed," Gov. Mark Dayton said.
Minnesota employers added 12,200 jobs in August, and the state has now eclipsed the pre-recessionary peak reached in February 2008 by 5,100 jobs.
Over the past year, Minnesota has added 63,000 jobs -- a 2.3 percent growth rate, exceeding the national growth rate of 1.7 percent.
State unemployment now sits at 5.1 percent, the lowest since April 2008. The U.S. unemployment rate in August was 7.3 percent.
JOB SECTOR GAINS
Trade, transportation and utilities: 6,000
Education and health care: 5,500
Other services: 2,300
Leisure and hospitality: 700
Financial activities: 100
Logging and mining: No change
Trade, transportation and utilities led all sectors over the past year, adding 18,300 jobs.
JOB SECTOR LOSSES
Professional and business services: 1,100
ENTRY-LEVEL, FULL-TIME WORK STILL SCARCE
After 10 months at her job, Sandrel Bunting considers herself lucky.
"I was working as a telemarketer -- kind of a dead-end job," she recalled. "Working a lot of hours for a little pay, and I had been applying to several jobs before that and just not able to get that interview."
That's a scenario thousands of Minnesotans can relate to. A total of 160,000 jobs were lost in the Great Recession. Four years later, the state has finally broken even -- but that doesn't mean the business climate is where it should be.
"It's good news in a sense. It's a very easy threshold to measure that we've been able to regain -- and surpass by 5,100 jobs," Steve Hine explained.
At Twin Cities Rise, where Bunting works now, the CEO told FOX 9 News the demand for helping people with work skills and placement is still growing. For many, it's a struggle to find full-time work instead of temporary and part-time jobs -- especially those with criminal histories.
"In the world that we live in, serving people with a lot of barriers, we do not see recovery. We see recession or worse," Art Berman said. "The barriers don't go away, and at the lowest end of employment, entry-level jobs -- they have not been coming back."
State economists did acknowledge that even those with good education backgrounds have had a difficult go of things, especially young college graduates and high school students entering a workforce with older competition.
The employment outlook is also fluid. Wells Fargo announced on Wednesday that more than 300 mortgage jobs will soon be cut, but Kohl's said Thursday they are looking to add over 1,000 jobs for the holiday season.