By Tim Krohn
---- — MANKATO — The area added 639 jobs in May as employment increased 1.2 percent over the same month last year.
The number of jobs was down 0.2 percent from April.
The largest gain, 3.6 percent, came in the important goods producing category (excluding agriculture) — jobs that are often better-paying manufacturing jobs. That was the biggest jump in goods producing jobs locally since 2008, according to Greater Mankato Growth.
Government shed 1.7 percent of its jobs in May compared to a year earlier, while the private sector added 1.8 percent.
Average hourly wages, however, fell to $21.16 in May compared to $21.85 per hour a year ago.
The statistics, released Thursday by the Department of Employment and Economic Development, are for the Mankato-North Mankato Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Blue Earth and Nicollet counties.
In other Metropolitan Statistical Areas, job growth occurred in the past 12 months in the Minneapolis-St. Paul (up 2.6 percent), St. Cloud(up 1.7 percent), Rochester (up 0.8 percent) and Duluth-Superior (up 0.7 percent).
Minnesota saw job growth of 1.6 percent in May with employers adding 8,400 compared to April. That came after two months of job losses.
DEED said the state has now gained 93 percent of the jobs lost during the recession. About 11,000 new jobs will be needed to get to pre-recession peaks.
Minnesota's unemployment rate remained unchanged, at 5.3 percent, compared with a U.S. unemployment rate of 7.6 percent in May.
"Last month's figures add to the mounting evidence of a broad-based economic recovery in Minnesota," said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. "Every major industrial sector has added jobs in the past 12 months, and the state's unemployment rate remains at a five-year low.