Business, consumer and economic tidbits from DNT reporter Candace Renalls. Click here to view previous posts or additional resources.
Expected job uptick arrives -- finally!
For months, a major drop in the the Northland's unemployment rate had been expected as the Iron Range mines geared back up towards full production and some other sectors started seeing recovery.
But while jobless numbers on the Range slowly dropped, the unemployment rate throughout the region held steady or even increased, frustrating some.
That is, until the April stats came out Monday with the big payoff many economic observers were waiting for. It shows unemployment in Northeastern Minnesota dramatically dropping from 9.6 percent in March to 8.2 percent in April.
The foundation had been laid months ago for this good news, not only with the callback of many laid-off workers but with the number of jobs slowly growing, pointed out Drew Digby, regional labor market analyst for the Department of Employment and Economic Development.
It takes about seven weeks for economic changes to work themselves into the stats, he explained.
While we have a ways to go to get to pre-Recession jobless levels of around 6 percent, there's reason to celebrate Duluth's current 7 percent rate and what's happening in other Northland cities: Hibbing's rate is 8.4 percent, down from a high of 18.4 percent last June and Virginia is at 9.5 percent, down from July's high of 17 percent.
Besides an improving economy, the increase in employment can be attributed to an early start to seasonal hiring due to employer confidence and maybe even the early spring. A later hiring of census workers here than in some other areas also contributed to the April numbers, Digby said.