- Associated Press - Thursday, April 17, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota’s labor force now tops 3 million, while the unemployment rate for March held steady at 4.8 percent.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development showcased the 3 million figure Thursday as it released jobs figures for March. The report says 2,600 jobs were added last month.

Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said Minnesota has 33,000 more jobs than its all-time employment peak. The labor force reached the 3 million milestone after a slow climb. Steve Hine, research director at the agency, said Minnesota hit 2 million people in its labor force in 1978 and reached 2.5 million in 1993. It has taken longer to get the rest of the way.

“We’re going to need a growing labor force while we can get it, since the demographics in a few short years are going to put a constraint on our ability to grow jobs,” Hine said, reflecting on the state’s graying population.

It’s worth noting that Minnesota barely had 4 million people in the late 1970s and has more than 5.3 million today.

Many job sectors that the state tracks saw hires in March. Losses came in leisure and hospitality, transportation and utilities, and education and health services.

The state has recovered from the last recession faster than the nation at large. The U.S. unemployment rate for March was 6.7 percent.

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