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Brainerd has the highest jobless rate in state

Brainerd’s unemployment rate rose in November and the city now has the only double-digit jobless rate in the state.

Brainerd continues to top the chart, at 11.7%, which tracks the jobless rates of 67 Minnesota cities with populations of 10,000 or more. Few others were even close. The majority of the cities had unemployment rates of 4 percent and 5 percent with Vadnais Heights as low as 2.6 percent. Bemidji was the second highest at 9.8 percent.

In Brainerd, the percentages mean out of a labor force of 7,322 in the city, 860 were without jobs the month before Christmas.

November’s increase comes after three months of declining numbers beginning in August. Brainerd’s jobless rate has not dipped below 10 percent now for 37 months. The last time Brainerd saw a single-digit unemployment rate was in October of 2008 when the rate was 9.6 percent. Brainerd’s highest unemployment rate this year was 18 percent. That may be considered progress. In 2010 and 2009, the jobless rate rose to 20 percent during the winter. It’s not unusual to have an increase in the jobless rate in the lakes area, with its seasonal employment, as winter depends before hiring picks up in the spring.

Brainerd isn’t alone. The unemployment rates increased from October to November across the seven-county area and in the micropolitan.

The Brainerd Micropolitan jobless rate increased to 7.6 percent in November, up from 6.6 percent the month before. The micropolitan covers Cass and Crow Wing counties and has a labor force of 47,872, meaning 3,643 people are out of work. The highest jobless rate in the micropolitan in 2011 to date was 11.7 percent in January. Like the city of Brainerd, the micropolitan has yet to hit the jobless percentage high of 12.6 percent witnessed in 2010 or 13.1 percent in 2009.

As a comparison, the state’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 5.9 percent in November, which continued a downward trend, at least slightly from the previous month, continuing a drop in the rate that began in August. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in November. The nation’s jobless rate hovered about 9 percent most of the year, an improvement from 2010 where the lowest rate recorded was 9.4 percent.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at or 855-5852.

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
(218) 855-5852