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January jobless rates jump up

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Brainerd’s jobless rate for January increased to 15.7 percent, marking its highest rate since February of 2011.

Brainerd’s numbers mean there are 1,139 people without jobs in a labor force of 7,277 in the region that encompasses the 56401 zip code. The wider Brainerd micropolitan covers Cass and Crow Wing counties had a January unemployment rate of 10.8 percent. The micropolitan’s labor force has 44,829 people and 4,853 of those are without a job. That doesn’t count people who may be among those who have been without a job for a long time and have given up looking for work. In December, the micropolitan’s jobless rate was 8.6 percent.

Brainerd has the highest unemployment in the state for large cities with populations of 10,000 or more. It’s a title Brainerd has shared with Bemidji as perennially having the highest jobless rate among the state’s large cities.

Brainerd, Bemidji (14.7 percent) and Grand Rapids (12 percent) were the only large cities with double-digit jobless rates.

Many of the other large cities in the state had unemployment rates in the 4,5 and 6 percent range, with a few closer to 9 percent. The lowest rate was 3.9 percent in Moorhead.

It’s not unusual for the lakes region, which includes seasonal work cycles, to have higher unemployment during the winter months — January, February and March. The micropolitan also reached a 10 percent jobless rate in January of 2012 and hit 11.5 percent in 2011 and 12.2 percent in January of 2010.

Six of the seven area counties moved up to double-digit unemployment rates in January. For several of the counties, including Crow Wing, the January jobless rate represented a rise past 10 percent for the first time in 22 months. In the region, Cass and Mille Lacs counties were the only two counties with extended double-digit unemployment in 2012. Both counties had four months of it from December in 2011 to March of 2012.

Area county jobless rates for January:

• Aitkin County, 10.3 percent, 737 people unemployed from a labor force of 7,146. Unemployment rate in December was 8.1 percent.

• Cass County, 12.2 percent, 1,630 people jobless out of 13,379 labor force. December’s jobless rate was 9.6 percent.

• Crow Wing County, 10.2 percent, which equals 3,223 people without jobs from a labor force of 31,450. The jobless rate in December was 8.2 percent.

• Mille Lacs County, 11.6 percent, equalling 1,488 people without jobs from a labor force of 12,779. In December, the county’s jobless rate was 9.5 percent.

• Morrison County, 10.8 percent, or 1,909 people out of work from a labor force of 17,692. The unemployment rate in December was 8.4 percent.

• Todd County, 8.2 percent, or 1,022 jobless people out of a labor force of 12,495. The December jobless rate was 6.4 percent.

• Wadena County, 10.2 percent, or 649 unemployed people from a labor force of 6,358. December’s jobless rate was 7.6 percent.

The state doesn’t release the jobless rates for the counties and cities in February and instead puts out both January and February unemployment rates in March. Minnesota’s unemployment rate in January, seasonally adjusted, was 5.6 percent. That number has been largely unchanged most of 2012, ranging from 5.4 to 5.7 percent. The national jobless rate, seasonally adjusted, was 7.9 percent in January.

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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