Unemployment rate falls across southern Minnesota in July

Monday, August 25, 2014

Article by Owatonna People's Press

Despite the fact that the state lost more than 4,000 jobs in July, unemployment rates across southern Minnesota fell after they had increased in June.

In Owatonna, the unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent, a 0.3 percent decrease from June. Owatonna’s labor force participation increased to 15,135, the highest the figure has been since November of 2013.

Steele County followed the same trend, dropping to an overall unemployment rate of 4 percent and posting similar gains to Owatonna’s in the labor force participation rate.

The decreases come during a time when Minnesota actually lost 4,200 jobs during July. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reports the seasonally-adjusted employment figure decreases in July every year, and this year’s decrease was the smallest in 15 years.

“July’s employment change appears disappointing, however, this is the smallest percentage decline in jobs for a July since 1999,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “Minnesota’s economic indicators remain positive, and underlying employment data continue to look strong.”

But in southern Minnesota, the news was good as jobs were added across the region. In Rice County, the jobless rate dropped to 4.9 percent. It is the second time in three months the rate has been below 5 percent.

Rice County’s two largest cities had mixed results in July. Faribault’s unemployment rate dropped to 6 percent, while Northfield’s climbed from 5.3 percent in June to 5.4 percent last month. July marked the third straight month in which Northfield’s unemployment rate increased.

Jobless rates in the Minnesota River Valley also declined in July. At 4.8 percent, Le Sueur County’s unemployment rate fell below 5 percent for the first time since October of last year.

For the fourth straight month, Nicollet County’s unemployment rate stayed below 4 percent, dropping to 3.4 percent in July.

Dodge County’s unemployment rate dropped to 4 percent in July after sitting at 4.3 percent in June. With nearly 11,000 people employed in the county, it’s the most jobs the county has seen since last July.

Closer to the Iowa border, Mower County and Freeborn County saw their unemployment rates decrease to 3.9 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.

Austin’s unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent, which was good for the fifth straight month the city’s rate was below 5 percent. Albert Lea dropped to 4.8 percent despite losing jobs in July, due in part to a decreased labor force participation rate.

Waseca County’s jobless rate fell to 4.9 percent after being at 5.3 percent in June. As for the county’s largest city, Waseca dropped to 5.5 percent, a 0.5 percent drop from June.

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