Job gains in the Mankato area the past year rose 2.3 percent as

Minnesota¹s unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 percent by the end of December.

Figures released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and

Economic Development (DEED) showed the Metropolitan Statistical Area of

Mankato gained 1,200 jobs in 2011.

Statewide, 25,300 jobs were gained last year,  7,900 in the month of

December when professional and business services led all job sectors with

3,200 new positions.

DEED said the state unemployment rate has fallen 1.5 percent since August,

the biggest decrease over a four-month span on record in Minnesota dating

back to 1976.

Minnesota¹s unemployment rate is nearly 3 percent less than the U.S.

unemployment rate of 8.5 percent.

In 2011 in Minnesota, job gains were greatest in education and health

services (up 11,000), professional and business services (up 10,000),

leisure and hospitality (up 3,600) and manufacturing (up 3,600).

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