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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: State unemployment rate unchanged at 4.7 percent

ST. PAUL  --  Minnesota employers added 600 jobs in January, according to figures released today by the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). The state unemployment rate in January was unchanged from the seasonally-adjusted revised rate of 4.7 percent in December.

Leisure and hospitality led all sectors in January with 3,000 new jobs.  The biggest job losses occurred in trade, transportation and utilities (down 3,200).  DEED also released revised figures that show the state gained 12,661 more jobs than originally reported over the previous 21 months. 


The Minnesota State House of Representatives Education Finance Committee heard testimony this morning on a proposal that would substantially increase funding for school readiness programs in the state's public schools.  Anoka-Hennepin community education director Steve Kerr says the achievement gap isn't just growing, it's becoming apparent earlier.  He says they can measure it at two years old "so clearly we need to do some investment here."  South St. Paul Superintendent Dave Webb says investing in programs through the public school system can eliminate transportation barriers, special education support need barriers for many of our struggling kids that are early identified, the lunch and breakfast program needs, and their early learning needs. The proposal would increase school readiness funding from ten million dollars to $30 million.


A Minnesota lawmaker's U.S. Senate campaign has been accused of making "robocalls" to activists within her party in violation of state law.  Three complaints have been filed with the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General that state Senator Julianne Ortman's U.S. Senate campaign used information from the Republican Party of Minnesota about precinct caucuses attendees to make the automated calls. 


It's a bitter-sweet day in the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District.  As students grieve the death of senior Zach Junkermeier, who died in an avalanche snowmobiling in Montana, they are also filled with excitement as they cheer on the Falcon boys basketball team in the state tournament in Minneapolis.  Superintendent Sheri Broderius says Zach's family is among those rooting the Falcons on.  She says a family spokesman said they wanted the boys all to know they wanted them to go and play really, really hard. The ACGC Falcons will be facing Rushford-Peterson this evening


Two juveniles are accused of using a replica handgun to rob a pizza delivery guy last night in Mankato.  Police say the victim was approached by the suspects at an apartment building and one pointed what looked like a semi-automatic handgun at him and demanded money.  The pizza guy complied and the two teens ran away.  Officers located one of the suspects and saw him throw something into the snow, which turned out to be a replica gun.  The two juveniles were arrested and taken to a detention center in Carver County.