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Jobless rates drop in Brainerd

Brainerd’s jobless rate dropped to 9.5 percent in June, the lowest it has been in 44 months.

To find a better June — with lower unemployment numbers — means going back to the summer of 2007. That’s six months before the Great Recession officially began in December of that year. During the past five years, going back to the start of 2008, Brainerd’s jobless rate has been below 10 percent just five months out of 54. The lowest jobless rate during those five months has never been below 9.5 percent, but it did equal that amount three out of the five months.

June’s jobless rate drop was down from 10.1 percent in May, continuing a drop that began in March as seasonal employment in the lakes area picked up. Brainerd’s unemployment rate means there were 756 people without jobs from a labor force of 7,986.

The local jobless rate numbers are generated through a cooperative effort from the federal and state government. The estimates are modeled on the current population survey, current employment statistics program and the state’s unemployment insurance systems.

Those who count the jobless rates often note the numbers may be missing the long-term unemployed who have given up looking for work or the underemployed who want a full-time job, but are settling for part-time and perhaps cobbling together several jobs to make ends meet.

For June, Brainerd had the second-highest jobless rate for a city with a population of 10,000 or more in the state. Brainerd’s long reign as the city with the highest unemployment rate in the state ended as Bemidji regained the title with 11.4 percent unemployment for June. Bemidji is now the only large city in the state in double-digit unemployment. Many of the other large cities in the state are in the 5-6 percent range for jobless rates. Grand Rapids rounded out the top three at 9 percent.

While Brainerd’s jobless rates went down, the unemployment numbers for the region rose slightly.

The Brainerd micropolitan, which looks at Crow Wing and Cass counties, had a jobless rate of 6.8 percent in June, slightly higher than the 6.5 percent in May and less than the 7.6 percent recorded in June of 2011, 8.1 percent in June of 2010, or 9.4 percent in June of 2009. The micropolitan has an estimated labor force of 50,670 people. The latest numbers mean 3,434 of those in the labor force are without jobs.

The seven area counties — Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Todd and Wadena — have a combined labor force of 108,467 with most of those people (35,505) in Crow Wing County. The combined jobless rates in the seven-county region, mean 7,389 people were without jobs out of the labor force.

Aitkin County’s jobless rate rose from 6.8 percent in May to 7.2 percent in June.

Cass County rose slightly from 7.2 percent in May to 7.8 percent in June.

Crow Wing County has the smallest increase out of the seven with the jobless numbers rising from 6.2 percent in May to 6.3 percent in June.

Mille Lacs County rose from 8 percent in May to 8.4 percent in June.

Morrison County rose from 5.7 in May to 6.1 percent in June.

Todd and Wadena counties saw their jobless rates climb in June to numbers higher than the past two months of May and April. Todd County rose from 5.1 percent in May to 5.8 percent in June. Wadena County rose from 6.9 percent in May to 7.5 percent in June.

In 2011, June jobless rates across the region increased from May’s numbers in six of the seven counties. And in other previous years, it was common to see an increase from May to June at least going back to 2007.

The state’s jobless rate was unchanged for the past three month. The national jobless rate has been between 8.1 and 8.3 percent since the start of the year. In June, it was 8.2 percent. The state and national numbers are seasonally adjusted.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

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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