ST. PAUL  (AP) -- Minnesota's unemployment rate dipped to 7 percent in December, but the state also lost jobs last month.

Figures released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development show a 0.1 percentage point decline in the jobless rate. But statewide employment fell by 22,400 jobs in December, cutting job gains for the year to 29,300, or a growth rate of 1.1 percent.

Those numbers compare with a national unemployment rate of 9.4 percent in December and national job growth for the year of 0.8 percent.

Acting Commissioner Paul Moe says the labor market remains unpredictable but there are signs of improvement. He says Minnesota has recovered about 20 percent of the jobs it lost in the recession. Temp hiring is up and new claims for unemployment benefits are down.

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