Jobless rates drop in the Northland
Unemployment rates continued to drop in much of the Northland in September, again reaching lows not seen in eight years or more. The September data -- the most recent available from the state -- show Duluth's jobless rate dipped to 4.3 percent, d...
Unemployment rates continued to drop in much of the Northland in September, again reaching lows not seen in eight years or more.
The September data - the most recent available from the state - show Duluth’s jobless rate dipped to 4.3 percent, down from 4.4 percent in August. The drop came with fewer people on the unemployment rolls amid a larger labor force, according to Department of Employment and Economic Development statistics.
A greater drop - from 4.8 percent to 4.4 percent - was seen in the greater Twin Ports area, which includes all of St. Louis, Carlton and Douglas counties. A smaller labor force, defined as the number of people working and actively looking for work, also helped drive down the percentage.
While the lower rates are part of the typical seasonal decline, September jobless rates have been sliding downward since the end of the economic recession, reflecting the improving economy.
The unemployment rate for all of Northeastern Minnesota also slipped to 4.3 percent in September from 4.8 percent in August, its lowest point in nine years. The sizable drop in the labor force is attributed to seasonal workers dropping out of the labor force for the winter.
Similar declines were recorded around the Northland. But Virginia’s substantial drop from 7 percent in August to 5.4 percent in September stood out. That’s down from a high of 17.2 percent in 2009 and the lowest level since 2005.
“It doesn’t take much to make a percentage drop in Virginia,” noted Mayor Louis Russo. “We have some new businesses in town that have done quite a lot of hiring.”
Besides mining ramping up, he noted hiring by Joy Global, Tri Tech Laboratories, a new Walmart and some medical clinics in town.
And there are more job openings out there, said Bernie Collins, who heads the Laurentian Chamber of Commerce, representing Virginia, Mountain Iron, Eveleth and Gilbert.
“We have a lot of people call us about needing help, so people are hiring,” Collins said. “They’re looking for people.”
Those employers include the local casino, banks and car dealerships, he said.
“And these aren’t necessarily high-skilled jobs,” he added. “You don’t’ need a college degree.”
Unemployment rates in the Northland are expected to continue to drop in October and November before the typical winter upswing begins in December.