ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota's jobless rate fell to 6.7 percent in January, its lowest point since December 2008.

Preliminary January unemployment figures released Wednesday by the Department of Employment and Economic Development showed an improvement over December's revised 6.9 percent rate.

Minnesota's job market remains significantly healthier than the national market, with national unemployment at 9 percent in January.

State officials say hiring picked up in the month, with employers adding a net 2,000 jobs. DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips says the state's labor market is undergoing "slow but steady improvement."

Job growth was strongest in the education and health and leisure and hospitality sectors.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)