Jobless rates rose across the lakes region in January, but none as high as the city of Brainerd.
The unemployment rate in Brainerd jumped to 18.1 percent for January, an increase from 16 percent in December. The jobless rates for January, released by the state Tuesday, show an increase across the region. Because of the time delay, with February’s rates not expected until later this month, any pick up in hiring won’t immediately be reflected. And with the seasonal nature of the lakes area work force, the unemployment rate typically rises during the winter months.
A year ago in January, Brainerd’s jobless rate was 19 percent. Two years ago, deep in the Great Recession, it was 20.7 percent. The bleak winter of 2009 represented four months where the unemployment rate was near or above 20 percent between January and April. That May, the jobless rate finally dropped to 15.8 percent.
Brainerd, which perennially ranks first for the highest unemployment in cities of 10,000 or more, has had double-digit jobless rates for 27 consecutive months. The last time it dipped below was in October of 2008 at 9.8 percent. For two months that fall the jobless rate hovered just below 10 percent. To find a year with more than two months in a row of unemployment below 10 percent means going back before the recession startedto November 2007.
For the city of Brainerd, the most recent percentages mean out of a labor force of 7,138, there were 1,290 people unemployed. Baxter is not included in the reporting because of its size. As an example, Eden Prairie, had a jobless rate of 5.2 percent, meaning out of a workforce of 35,249 there were 1,847 people without jobs.
The Brainerd micropolitan, including Crow Wing and Cass counties, had an 11.8 percent unemployment for January, up from 10.5 percent in December. A year ago, the micropolitan had an unemployment level of 11.9 percent. It rose to 12 percent in February of 2010, the highest level posted last year.
All seven area counties posted increases in the jobless rate between December and January.
• Aitkin County rose to 11.9 percent, or 881 people, up from 10.4 percent.
• Cass County rose to 13.7 percent, or 1,871 people, up from 12.1 percent.
• Crow Wing County rose to 10.9 percent, or 3,466, up from 9.8 percent.
• Mille Lacs County rose to 13.6 percent, or 1,662 people, from 12.3 percent.
• Morrison County rose to 11.9 percent, or 2,132 people, up from 10.4 percent.
• Todd County rose to 8.7 percent, or 1,135 people, up from 8.2 percent.
• Wadena County, rose to 11.5 percent, or 754 people, up from 10.8 percent.
Compared to other large cities in the state, Brainerd continues to have the highest January unemployment. The next contenders are Grand Rapids at 14.7 percent, Bemidji at 13.9 percent, Virginia at 11.5 percent, Alexandria at 11.1 percent and Cloquet at 10.4 percent. Moorhead posted a jobless rate of 4.7 percent and Marshall had 4.4 percent.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.