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Jobless rates increase with winter's arrival

Jobless rates are beginning a winter march upward.

The number of people without jobs in the lakes region increased as the unemployment rate lurched higher in November going from 9.7 percent to 11.6 percent in the Brainerd area.

The winter increase between October and November is an annual event in the region.

While the numbers are moving upward, 2012 marked the first time the Brainerd area put together five consecutive months with a jobless rate below 10 percent since 2007. The previous mark was two back-to-back months below 10 percent in the fall of 2008.

With the latest numbers recently released by the Department of Employment and Economic Development, Brainerd retook the lead as for the highest unemployment in the state among cities of 10,000 people or more. Brainerd took the mantle back from Bemidji, which had a November jobless rate of 10.4 percent.

Brainerd jobless rate comes from the 56401 ZIP Code, excluding Baxter, which doesn’t have a large enough population base to be counted on the list.

Brainerd’s numbers mean from a labor force of 7,459, there are 866 people without jobs. The unemployment rates for many of the other large cities in the state remained in the 4 percent and 5 percent range. Moorhead posted a jobless rate of 2.9 percent. While jobless rates in Brainerd, Bemidji and Grand Rapids jobless rates rose between October and November, most of the other large cities continued to see a downward trend — at least slightly. There are 66 large cities in the state.

Brainerd and Bemidji were the only large cities in the state with double-digit unemployment rates. Other cities in the state did see increases such as Albert Lea, Virginia, Waseca and New Ulm, but they were in the minority. Albert Lea increased to 6 percent, Virginia to 6.8 percent, Waseca to 7 percent and New Ulm to 4.7 percent. Brainerd’s most recent unemployment rate is nearly identical to the jobless numbers it had for November of 2011. In November of 2010, the jobless rate was 14.1 percent and in November of 2009 it was 15.7 percent.

The Brainerd Micropolitan, which covers Crow Wing and Cass counties, posted a November jobless rate of 7.6 percent, an increase from 6.5 percent in October. In November of 2011, the micropolitan’s jobless rate was 7.8 percent.

Jobless rates increased across the region. In the seven-county area, the November jobless rates and number of people unemployed were:

■ Aitkin County, 7.2 percent, 523.

■ Cass County, 8.6 percent, 1,197.

■ Crow Wing, 7.2 percent, 2,338.

■ Mille Lacs, 8 percent, 990.

■ Morrison, 6.3 percent, 1,097.

■ Todd County, 5.3 percent, 661.

■ Wadena County, 6.8 percent, 432.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate for the state in November was 5.7 percent, a decrease from 5.9 percent in October. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted rate for November was 7.7 percent, which fell from 7.9 percent in October.

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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