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November jobless rate in Brainerd lowest in 8 years

To find a lower November unemployment rate recently posted in Brainerd means going back eight years to 2007. But numbers still remain high compared to the rest of the state, except for Iron Range cities or perhaps Bemidji. For employers coming to...

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To find a lower November unemployment rate recently posted in Brainerd means going back eight years to 2007.

But numbers still remain high compared to the rest of the state, except for Iron Range cities or perhaps Bemidji. For employers coming to the city like Mann Lake's manufacturing expansion to Brainerd, the labor pool and larger population has the potential to help fuel business expansion. For workers, the tight labor market means they no longer need to keep a dead-end job for fear of having no employment.

"Falling unemployment and underemployment mean that Minnesota's economy is running closer to its full potential than before," the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reported in a recent labor study, looking at the November numbers. In trends, DEED reported the unemployment rate for teenagers has been on a downward trend since early 2013. During the Great Recession, teenagers were competing with out-of-work adults for jobs.

"The number of long-term unemployed following the Great Recession peaked in August 2011 at 75,100 persons and as of November 2015 stood at 22,100 persons. At the start of the Great Recession in December 2007, the number of long-term unemployed was 18,000," DEED reported, noting "long-term unemployment-lasting 27 weeks or more-imposes costs on people that go well beyond lost wages. Future earnings are lower, and health, relationships, and self-esteem can suffer."

Brainerd's jobless rate doubled between 2007 and 2010.

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Of the 64 cities with populations of 10,000 or more in the state's large city category, 42 had unemployment rates below 3 percent. Six cities had jobless rates above 4 percent and just four cities had jobless rates at 8 percent or higher. Brainerd was among the four cities. The others were Grand Rapids at 8.9 percent, Hibbing at 8.7 percent and Virginia at 8 percent.

The Brainerd Micropolitan, taking in Cass and Crow Wing counties, had the highest jobless rate among the 15 micropolitans at 5.2 percent. Nine of the 15 had jobless rates below 3 percent. Bemidji was the closest to Brainerd at 4 percent. Just Albert Lea at 3.3 percent, Fergus Falls at 3.4 percent, Hutchinson at 3 percent and New Ulm at 3.1 percent were at 3 percent for an unemployment rate or just above.

The Brainerd Micropolitan has a labor force of 44,518 and 2,320 out of the labor force who are without jobs. The micropolitan's jobless rate was 8 percent at the beginning of 2015 with 3,504 people without jobs. That number declined nearly steadily throughout the year, before rising from 4.1 percent in October to 5.2 percent last month. The number of people in the micropolitan's labor force can fluctuate year to year. In 1990, there were 28,525 people in the labor force. It grew to more than 40,000 in 1996 and wavered within a few thousand of that mark, higher or lower, until 2001 when it rose to more than 45,000 people. In 2002, there were more than 47,000 people in the labor force of the two counties. By 2004, the number rose to nearly 49,000 people. For the following decade, the labor force ranged from 42,000 to nearly 50,000 (in June of 2009).

This year, the micropolitan reached the largest labor force in June with 47,098 and all but 2,368 of those with jobs.

Comparing this November's jobless rate to previous years shows the arrival of the Great Recession and its lingering effects.

RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz .

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