By Tim Krohn
---- — MANKATO — The greater Mankato area saw job growth in December of 0.7 percent compared to a year earlier.
The Mankato-North Mankato Metropolitan Statistical — all of Blue Earth and Nicollet counties — had 54,438 jobs, up 385 jobs year-over-year.
It is the highest employment number in December since 2007 when employment was at 54,906. It is still 613 jobs shy of the all-time high for December employment, logged in 2006.
The average wage earned locally in December was $22.11, up from $21.35 in December of last year.
The average number of hours worked per week, however, fell to 32.9 hours, down from 33.1 hours a year earlier.
For the entire year of 2013, the Mankato area lagged behind all of the state's Metropolitan Statistical Areas for job growth.
In the state MSAs, job gains occurred in the past 12 months in the Minneapolis-St. Paul (up 2 percent), Duluth-Superior (up 1.3 percent), St. Cloud (up 1.1 percent), Rochester (up 0.9 percent), and Mankato (up 0.7 percent).
The figures were released Thursday by the Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Statewide, employers added 9,500 jobs in December. The December job gains combined with November figures that were revised upward by 1,700 jobs bring total job growth in Minnesota to 45,900 in the past year, a growth rate of 1.7 percent compared with a national rate of 1.6 percent during that period.
The state unemployment rate remained unchanged in December at a seasonally adjusted 4.6 percent, well below the U.S. unemployment rate of 6.7 percent.
“December’s employment numbers closed out a strong year for the Minnesota labor market,” DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said in a statement. “Eleven out of 12 major industrial sectors gained jobs last year, and leading indicators point to continued growth in 2014.”
Trade, transportation and utilities led all sectors last month with 4,600 new jobs. Other gains occurred in government (up 2,600), manufacturing (up 1,700), education and health services (up 1,200), professional and business services (up 1,000), construction (up 400), and logging and mining (up 100).
Job losses occurred in December in leisure and hospitality (down 800), other services (down 700), financial activities (down 500) and information (down 100).
The following sectors added jobs over the past year: trade, transportation and utilities (up 11,800), education and health services (up 10,900), leisure and hospitality (up 6,800), construction (up 6,500), professional and business services (up 4,100), information (up 2,200), government (up 1,800), financial activities (up 1,600), logging and mining (up 500), and other services (up 300).
Manufacturing was the only sector to lose jobs in the past year, down 400 jobs.