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Mining layoffs raise area’s jobless rate

The hundreds of recent layoffs from mining jobs on the Iron Range showed up in last month's unemployment numbers. The result? Unemployment rates jumped for Hibbing and Virginia, with St. Louis County showing a sizable boost as well, according to ...

The hundreds of recent layoffs from mining jobs on the Iron Range showed up in last month’s unemployment numbers.
The result?
 Unemployment rates jumped for Hibbing and Virginia, with St. Louis County showing a sizable boost as well, according to the latest Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development numbers.
The city of Hibbing fared the worst, with unemployment increasing a whopping 4 percent - from 5.9 percent in May to 9.9 percent in June - as 331 more people were unemployed. Virginia’s jobless rate increased 2.8 percent, with 110 more unemployed people, the numbers show.
In St. Louis County, which includes the cities of Hibbing and Virginia as well as Duluth, the jobless rate rose from 4.7 percent in May to 5.4 percent in June.
“That’s a pretty good increase,” noted Erik White, DEED’s regional labor analyst.
Unemployment in Northeastern Minnesota as a whole rose from 5 percent in May to 5.6 percent in June, largely due to those mining layoffs.
Those higher rates are expected to continue in July. But in the next couple of months, the expected callback of 400 workers to U.S. Steel’s Minntac taconite facility in Mountain Iron should help lower rates.
Meanwhile, Duluth’s unemployment rate inched up from 3.9 percent in May to 4.1 percent in June with more people unemployed, fewer jobs and a reduced labor force. That’s still lower than the 4.5 percent unemployment rate in June 2014.
The greater Twin Ports area -  which includes all of St. Louis, Carlton and Douglas counties -  saw a greater increase, from 4.7 percent in May to 5.3 percent in June, a level similar to last year.
But there’s a bright spot -  job growth over the past year.
The Twin Ports area had 1,000 more leisure and hospitality jobs in June compared to May, and 500 more jobs than a year ago, White noted. And the job category that combines mining, logging and construction jobs grew 10 percent from May to June, even with all the mining layoffs.
A comparison of the five Minnesota Metropolitan Statistical Areas shows the Twin Ports statistical area had the second-largest job growth in the past year.
“Compared to last year, we’re seeing other MSAs staying at the same level,” White said. “Duluth, meanwhile, has grown 1.5 percent and that’s about 2,000 jobs. So there’s definitely job growth in the region.”
The only other statistical area that has shown job growth is Minneapolis-St. Paul, where it has grown by 2 percent, he noted.

Related Topics: MINING
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