— Blue Earth and Nicollet counties saw the number of jobs grow 2.2 percent in February compared to a year earlier.
There were 53,704 jobs in the Mankato-North Mankato Metropolitan Statistical Area, an increase of 0.8 percent from January. There were about 450 more jobs in February than January and about 1,100 more jobs compared to a year ago.
Government added the bulk of the jobs month-to-month locally with public-sector jobs rising 2.6 percent.
While private-sector job growth edged up 2.4 percent year-to-year, goods-producing jobs grew by nearly 5 percent. Those manufacturing jobs are generally the higher-paying jobs.
The statewide figures were also strong for February.
Minnesota labor officials say February was another strong month for employment with the state adding 14,500 jobs.
Over the past year, Minnesota has gained about 62,400 jobs for a 2.3 percent growth rate that tops the national rate of 1.5 percent. State labor market economist Steve Hine says the private sector has nearly regained all of the jobs it lost in the recession.
Minnesota's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate of 5.5 percent in February is unchanged from January. The national rate in February was 7.7 percent unemployment.
Professional and business service led all sectors with about 6,800 job gains in Minnesota. Government lost about 1,000 jobs during the month and manufacturing saw a loss of 800.