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Duluth area hit by job loss

Minnesota reported the loss of another 16,700 jobs in June, and the Northland has been hit particularly hard, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Duluth unemployment increases
Duluth unemployment had an unexpected increase in May. (File / News Tribune)

Minnesota reported the loss of another 16,700 jobs in June, and the Northland has been hit particularly hard, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

In the past 12 months ending June 30, St. Louis, Douglas and Carlton counties have cumulatively shed 4.1 percent of their jobs. That compares with job losses of 3.7 percent in the Twin Cities metro area, 1.8 percent in the St. Cloud area and 1.3 percent in the Rochester area during the same period.

The recent downturn in mining is largely responsible for the Northland's poor showing. Nearly two-thirds of people working in the mining industry last year are now drawing unemployment benefits, according to Drew Digby, a regional labor analyst for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

"Overall, it maybe doesn't look so good. But if you take mining out of the picture, it actually looks OK," said Digby of job losses in the Duluth-Superior metropolitan statistical area -- comprising St. Louis, Douglas and Carlton counties. He noted that many other industries in the region have held up fairly well in the face of recession.

Local unemployment figures for June won't be released until later this month, but the seasonally adjusted state unemployment rate rose from 8.1 percent in May to 8.4 percent in June. Despite the increase, Minnesota still is faring better than many other states, as the U.S. unemployment rate hit 9.5 percent in June.

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Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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