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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: State jobless rate now under five percent

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ST. PAUL -  Minnesota's unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent in October, the same as when the recession started in December 2007.

State job analyst Steve Hine says two months of data were released today because all the employment information wasn't available during the partial federal government shutdown in October. Hine says in September the state lost 87-hundred jobs, which was offset by a rebound of 9,900 new jobs in October, for a net gain of  1,200 jobs over the two months. Education and health services led all sectors during the two-month period, adding 67-hundred jobs. Other sectors with job gains during that period were manufacturing (up 5,300), information (up 600), construction (up 300), logging and mining (up 200), and government (up 200).

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One person is dead after a crash between a car and a large truck this morning(thurs) outside of St. Joseph. Stearns County Chief Deputy Sheriff Bruce Bechtold says it happened just after 9:00 a.m. at the new intersection near the Interstate-94 bypass. The female victim's name is being withheld until family members are notified.   

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Minnesota-based retail giant Target is posting quarterly earnings that surpass analysts' expectations. The company posted third-quarter earnings today of 84 cents a share -- 3 cents more per-share than a year ago. Analysts had forecast a profit of 63 cents a share. Revenue increased from $16.9 billion in 2012 to 17.2-billion.

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The University of Minnesota is adding Thursday night Gopher Chauffeur service for students in need of a safe ride home. The move comes after a rise in robberies and assaults on or near the Minneapolis campus this fall. The Gopher Chaffeur already operates on Friday and Saturdays from 10pm to 2am and U of M officials say demand is at a record-high. Nearly 4,500 students have received a ride home so far this semester. Thursday service is scheduled to begin tonight.

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A Minnesota congressman is sponsoring a bill that would ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans receive equal benefits for their service. Representative Tim Walz (DFL-Mankato) says some LGBT veterans, spouses and their families can be denied survivor benefits such as death pensions, flag burial honors and life insurance, depending on where they live. Under current law, same-sex couples married in Minnesota would not receive the same VA benefits if they moved to Wisconsin. Walz says "when someone puts their life on the line to protect our freedom at home, they deserve to enjoy the same freedom and earned benefits as anyone else...no matter who they love or where they reside." His bill would also change the military's definition of a "spouse" and "surviving spouse" so LGBT couples could receive benfits.

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All five Great Lakes have much higher water levels than a year ago, thanks to the heavy rain and snow of the past 12 months. But Lakes Michigan and Huron are still 17 inches below their long-term averages for October, while Lake Superior is slightly below average. As a result, federal officials say it's too early to declare an end to reduced water levels that have plagued the Great Lakes for about 15 years. The Lake Carriers Association says many vessels have hauled up to six-thousand more tons of cargo this year, compared to last. However, the group says average loads are still about five-thousand tons below normal. The Lake Carriers are asking Congress to spend more to dredge harbors that remain shallow.

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