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Brainerd continues jobless rate run

Brainerd’s unemployment rate hasn’t put this many back-to-back months below 10 percent together since the summer and fall of 2007.

The city’s jobless rate was largely unchanged in the past few months as it hovers between 9 percent and 10 percent.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development released the latest numbers Tuesday.

In August, Brainerd had a 9.4 percent jobless rate, which dropped ever so slightly in September to 9.3 percent. The latest numbers for October returned the jobless rate to 9.4 percent. In the fall of 2007, the city’s jobless rate ranged from 7.2 percent to 8.3 percent.

Brainerd’s unemployment rate dropped below 10 percent in June and stayed there. Cities jobless numbers include population areas in the community but outside their defined city limits boundaries.

For a wider look at employment conditions, the Brainerd Micropolitan — which covers Cass and Crow Wing counties — had an October jobless rate of 6.5 percent. The micropolitan has a labor force of 47,272 people and 3,056 of those are out of work. October’s numbers had the micropolitan rate ticking up just a bit from 6.3 percent in September, but still lower than summer rates ranging from 6.6 to 6.9 percent. The micropolitan landed in the 6 percent range in May and remained there for six months. It hasn’t done that since 2008.

Bemidji, with a jobless rate of 9.5 percent, hung on to its dubious No. 1 title for the highest unemployment rate for Minnesota cities of 10,000 people or more. Brainerd and Bemidji have swapped leader positions for the state’s highest jobless rate for large cities. Most of the large cities posted a jobless rate between 4 percent and 6 percent. Rates did not move much between September and October. Most dropped a little. Moorhead had the lowest rate at 3 percent.

Closer to home in the seven-county region, the jobless rate ranged from 5.1 percent to 7.5 percent.

Todd County had the lowest rate at 5.1 percent, meaning 636 people were without a job from the county’s labor force of 12,454. Mille Lacs County had the highest jobless rate at 7.5 percent with 934 people out of work from 12,382 in the labor force.

Aitkin and Mille Lacs counties had jobless rates unchanged from September. Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison counties went up at least slightly with Cass County posting the highest increase from 6.7 percent in September to 7.1 percent in October. Todd and Wadena counties dropped just slightly in October.

Minnesota’s unemployment rate continued to be 5.8 percent. The state has been between 5.9 and 5.6 percent since November of 2011.

There have been positive signs on the jobs front. The lakes area saw large employers open in October with Costco and Olive Garden among them. Area manufacturers also reported job openings and retailers hung out the “now hiring” signs this fall. But not all the news was uplifting as Wausau Paper recently announced layoffs affecting 55 workers.

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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