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Unemployment numbers are trending down slightly; Hubbard County's rate is 9.6 percent

The Minnesota unemployment rate fell 0.2 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted 5.7 percent, according to figures released by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

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. The U.S. unemployment rate in December was 8.5 percent.

Hubbard County's unemployment rate in December was 9.6 percent. Cass and Clearwater were in double digits at 10 and 11 percent, respectively. Becker County was nearly on par with the state with 6.4 percent of the population unemployed.

Minnesota gained 7,900 jobs in December and 25,300 jobs for the full year. Over the past year, total jobs in the state have grown 1 percent, compared with a U.S. growth rate of 1.3 percent in 2011.

"The Minnesota unemployment rate continues to move in the right direction, reaching its lowest level since September 2008," said DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips. "The labor market is recovering at a slow but steady pace."

Professional and business services led all sectors in December with 3,200 new jobs, followed by government (up 2,700), education and health care (up 1,900), manufacturing (up 1,700), trade, transportation and utilities (up 1,200), financial activities (up 400) and information (up 100).

Job losses occurred in construction (down 1,700), leisure and hospitality (down 1,100), other services (down 400), and logging and mining (down 100).

Year-over-year job gains occurred in education and health services (up 11,000), professional and business services (up 10,000), leisure and hospitality (up 3,600), manufacturing (up 3,600), financial activities (up 1,900), trade, transportation and utilities (up 1,900), other services (up 400) and construction (up 200).

Sectors that lost jobs over the past 12 months were government (down 6,100), information (down 1,100), and logging and mining (down 100).

In the state Metropolitan Statistical Areas, job gains occurred in the past year in the Mankato MSA (up 2.3 percent), Rochester MSA (up 1.4 percent) and Minneapolis-St. Paul MSA (up 1.2 percent). Job losses occurred in the Duluth-Superior MSA (down 0.8 percent) and St. Cloud MSA (down 0.2 percent).