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Brainerd changes a jobless tide

For the first time since the winter of 2007, the city of Brainerd posted three straight months with a jobless rate below 10 percent.

During the last 57 months, the city’s unemployment rate dropped below 10 percent just seven times — three instances this summer alone.

In August, Brainerd’s jobless rate was 9.2 percent, down from 9.7 percent in July and lower than the 9.6 percent in June. Hiring has picked up in the region with Costco and Olive Garden adding employees late this summer. Both are set for October opening dates.

Brainerd’s unemployment numbers mean 721 people were without jobs out of a labor force of 7,811.

Of the 66 large cities in the state with populations of 10,000 or more, Bemidji is now in sole ownership of the highest jobless rate in the state at 10.2 percent in August. The large city with the lowest unemployment rate for the month was Moorhead with 3.6 percent. Most of the state’s large cities were in the 4-6 percent range. Bemidji has taken the mantle for the city with the highest unemployment, a title Brainerd previously retained for months on end.

In the Brainerd micropolitan, which includes the expanded labor force of 49,554 people in Cass and Crow Wing counties, the August jobless rate was 6.5 percent, or 3,236 people without jobs.

Those numbers don’t take into account people who have given up looking for work or those who are underemployed — perhaps working two or more part-time jobs to replace one they lost.

August’s numbers represent a drop for the jobless numbers compared to 6.9 percent in July.

Jobless rates across the seven-county area, which includes Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Todd and Wadena, ranged from 5.6 percent to 8.1 percent. All counties saw a drop in unemployment rates between July and August. There are 6,989 people out of the labor force without jobs across the seven-county area, with the largest number — 2,111 of them — in Crow Wing County.

In Minnesota, the seasonally adjusted jobless rate for August was 5.9 percent, up slightly from July. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted rate was 8.1 percent, down from 8.6 percent in July.

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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