Unemployment rate lower than last year [UPDATED]Published 11:09am Wednesday, July 31, 2013 Updated 12:48pm Friday, August 30, 2013
Otter Tail County’s unemployment rate remained steady in June, at 4.9 percent, the same figure as in the month of May. However, it’s slightly lower than the 5.1 percent of June 2012, and it also beats the state and country unemployment rate.
The unemployment rate of 4.9 in May and June is the lowest the county’s seen since last November, when it was 4.7 percent. It’s pretty typical to see a lower rate this time of year, when construction and full agricultural employment are happening, according to Harold Stanislawski, executive director of the Fergus Falls Economic Improvement Commission, who wasn’t surprised by the numbers.
“That’s when you get the lowest unemployment of the year, and I think that’s what we’re seeing now,” he said.
It’s not just the time of year that’s affecting the unemployment rate either, according to Stanislawski. Manufacturing orders are up, and there’s lots of activity in industrial sectors.
“We’ve seen an economic recovery here for the last good year,” Stanislawski said. “The economy seems to be improving, and that’s a welcome sign.”
The construction business might be even healthier than it was just a year ago, he said, with more interest in home building and also lots of remodeling projects in the works.
Most everything Stanlislawski hears from local operators in the tourism industry is positive. He’s visited with the hotels in town, “and they’ve had some really good weeks here,” he said.
The area also has lots of jobs to offer. Healthcare is always a field that’s hiring, along with manufacturing, agricultural positions in processing and production, according to Stanislawski.
Just last week, Doherty Staffing Solutions, an employment agency headquartered in Minneapolis, announced more than 120 new job opportunities will come to the area this fall in the form of at-home phone representatives. Stanislawski has already met some people in Fergus Falls who’ve been hired for the positions.
“You start combining all of that, and you’ve got quite a bit of choices for people in employment selection,” Stanislawski said. “There are so many people looking for help right now, that it’s possible that the (unemployment rate) number could drop even lower.”
The state’s unemployment rate dropped in June, to 5.2 percent, which was down from 5.3 percent in May, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Minnesota employers added 400 jobs in June, thanks to a 2,500-job increase in the private sector. That was offset by 2,100 job losses in government employment.
The state added 54,100 jobs in the past year, for a 2 percent growth rate. Minnesota has regained 95 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, from its low point in May 2008. The most economic growth across the state in June was professional and business services, which added 3,600 jobs.
In addition, Minnesota continues to outperform the overall country’s economy. The national unemployment rate for May remained unchanged at 7.6 percent.