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Jobless rates drop slightly across the region

Brainerd’s jobless rate dropped slightly in March, as did all the rates across the seven-county area.

Warm weather may have helped by putting the area ahead of schedule from area resorts to lawn maintenance.

Brainerd posted an unemployment rate of 14.2 percent in March, down from 14.6 percent in February. A year ago in March, the jobless rate was 16.7 percent.

The latest numbers, released Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, show Brainerd with a labor force of 7,514 and out of those workers, 1,066 are listed as unemployed. In 2011, the highest unemployment rate reached in the city was 18 percent.

Brainerd continues to have the highest jobless rate in the state for cities with populations of 10,000 or more. Just three cities had double-digit jobless numbers in March — Brainerd, Bemidji and Grand Rapids.

Many other large cities in the state had unemployment rates ranging from 4-7 percent.

Brainerd’s micropolitan, which covers Cass and Crow Wing counties, has a labor force of 46,770. In March, the micropolitan jobless rate was 9.9 percent, meaning 4,642 people from the labor force were without jobs. The micropolitan’s most recent rate jobless represents a decrease from 10.2 percent in February.

Area counties all posted reduced unemployment rates between February and March.

March is a month where traditionally jobless rates may climb before they start to go down with the arrival of spring and seasonal jobs. The jobless rate declines weren’t all huge percentages, but they were a start.

• Aitkin County’s jobless rate dropped to 9.9 percent in March to 10 percent in February. In the 11 months, Aitkin County was in double digits only one month.

• Cass County decreased from 11.5 percent in February to 11.4 percent in March. Cass County has been at 10 percent unemployment or higher since December.

• Crow Wing County declined from 9.7 percent in February to 9.3 percent in March. Crow Wing County has the largest labor force in the region with 32,692 people. March’s rate means 3,036 people are out of work from that labor force.

• Mille Lacs County decreased from 12.1 percent in February to 12 percent in March. Mille Lacs has been in double-digit unemployment since December.

• Morrison County declined from 9.6 percent in February to 9.1 percent in March. Morrison County has the second highest labor force in the region at 18,639, of which 1,688 are unemployed.

• Todd County continued its reign among the seven counties for the lowest jobless rate dropped from 8.1 percent in February to 7.7 percent in March. Todd County hasn’t had double-digit unemployment in 24 months.

• Wadena County dropped from 10.4 percent in February to 9.9 percent in March. Wadena County has the smallest labor force in the seven-county area at 7,400. March’s rate means 729 people are without jobs from that labor force.

Minnesota’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.8 percent in March, up slightly from February. The nation’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate declined slightly to 8.4 percent in March.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or

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.
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