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Employment rate brightens in southeastern Minnesota

By Mike Klein

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Mower County’s jobless rate fell to 6.3 percent in May as the job picture brightened.

The rate was 6.6 percent in April and 7.4 percent in March, although a year ago it was just 4.2 percent. A total of 1,337 people were unemployed.

The 11-county southeastern Minnesota region’s jobless rate dropped to 7.2 percent in May, the lowest since December.

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It’s down from 7.7 percent in April and 8.5 percent in March, although it remains above the 4.7 percent of May 2008.

"It is not yet clear if we have reached a turning point in our economic recovery, but there are some optimistic signs," said Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Dan McElroy. "We are encouraged that the unemployment rate has held steady in recent months and that the pace of job losses appears to be slowing."

Southeastern Minnesota also remains in better shape than most regions of the country. The jobless rate in Minnesota was 7.8 percent and 9.1 percent nationwide in May.

Olmsted County remained the lowest in the region at 6 percent, with Mower County close behind at 6.3 percent.

The rural counties of Fillmore and Houston counties, which had jobless rates above 10 percent in March, continued their dramatic drops. Fillmore’s rate was 7.8 percent and Houston’s 7.9 percent in May.

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