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Jobless rate up slightly in June in Duluth area

The typical summer increase in unemployment in the Twin Ports is here.

After dropping to 5 percent in May, the jobless rate for Duluth inched back up to 5.2 percent in June, according to the latest Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development data.

A similar bump was seen in the greater Twin Ports area — which encompasses all of St. Louis, Carlton and Douglas counties — with an increase from 5.6 percent to 5.8 percent.

But a closer look at the statistics yields positive indicators. While more people are collecting unemployment in the Twin Ports area (nearly 400), there are even more new jobs (about 700). And nearly 1,100 more people are in the labor force, defined as those working and actively looking for work which, experts say, suggests growing confidence in the economy.

Northeastern Minnesota as a whole also had more people on the unemployment rolls in June, a greater labor force and more jobs, which kept the jobless rate at 5.9 percent, the same as May.

The summer uptick isn’t seen just in the Northland, but throughout Minnesota. While Minnesota’s seasonally adjusted rate dipped from 4.6 percent in May to

4.5 percent in June, the unadjusted rate rose from 4.2 percent to 4.6 percent. Local and regional rates are not seasonally adjusted.

“It’s a combination of things,” Cameron Macht, DEED’s regional analysis and outreach manager, said of the summer increases. “School being out is one factor. Usually what we see is the labor force statistics start to increase in the summer months. People are flooding into the market, sometimes with teenagers looking for jobs.”

Moreover, by June, the increase in the seasonal construction jobs already has been felt in the statistics, Macht said.

“By June, they’re underway,” he said.

Around the region, jobless rate increases from May to June include Cloquet’s rise from 6.7 percent to 6.8 percent, and Virginia’s climb from 6.8 percent to 7.2 percent. Among the biggest jumps — from 6.3 percent to 7.1 percent — was the one seen in Hibbing, the data show.

An exception was Grand Rapids, where unemployment continued to drop from its winter high of 11.9 percent in February, reaching 8.2 percent in June.

Macht noted that over the course of a year the summer bump in unemployment rates is less severe than the winter increase when construction workers are laid off.

In the Northland, rates tend to drop again in late summer, typically reaching their lowest level in November.