The Minnesota unemployment rate declined to a seasonally adjusted 6.7 percent in January, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The rate, which was 0.2 percent below December’s revised 6.9 percent unemployment rate, was the lowest in Minnesota since December 2008. The U.S. unemployment rate was 9 percent in January.

Minnesota employers added 2,000 jobs during the month. Over the past year, the state has gained 16,500 jobs, for a growth rate of 0.6 percent. The U.S. growth rate during that period was 0.7 percent.

“The figures indicate a slow but steady improvement in the Minnesota labor market,” said DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips.”While the economy continues to face headwinds, we’re seeing a number of positive signs, including growth in temp-help hiring, rising consumer confidence and declining initial claims for unemployment benefits.”

Education and health services led all sectors, gaining 4,200 jobs in January. Other gains occurred in leisure and hospitality (up 1,800), other services (up 900), financial activities (up 700), logging and mining (up 500), professional and business services (up 400), construction (up 200), manufacturing (up 200) and information (up 100).

Job losses occurred in trade, transportation and utilities (down 6,700) and government (down 300).

Over the past year, education and health services gained 10,200 jobs, followed by professional and business services (up 7,000), manufacturing (up 4,900), trade, transportation and utilities (up 2,300), logging and mining (up 800) and other services (up 700).

Job losses occurred in the past year in construction (down 4,300), leisure and hospitality (down 1,700), government (down 1,700), financial activities (down 1,300) and information (down 400).

In the state Metropolitan Statistical Areas, job gains occurred in the past 12 months in the St. Cloud MSA (up 2.2 percent), Mankato MSA (up 2.2 percent), Duluth-Superior MSA (up 0.6 percent), Rochester MSA (up 0.4 percent) and Minneapolis-St. Paul MSA (up 0.3 percent).

This month’s employment data also include benchmarks results – an annual revision of employment data from the previous 21 months. The revisions indicate that the state lost 158,300 jobs during the recession, rather than the 162,200 jobs that were originally reported. But the recovery has been slower than originally reported, with 19,300 jobs gained instead of 33,000 as of December 2010.

The revised data also indicate that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate peaked at 8.5 percent in both May and June 2009, instead of the originally reported 8.4 percent during those months.