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Unemployment rate in area up in June; Olmsted County's lower

By Bob Freund

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Olmsted County’s unemployment rate for June registered below both the region and state averages.

Olmsted and Mower counties both had lower figures than the region’s 5 percent and the state’s 5.3 percent, according to figures from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Olmsted registered at 4.3 percent and Mower at 4.6 percent, perhaps due to their concentrations of employers. None of the statistics are adjusted for normal seasonal changes in unemployment.

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Also among this month’s jobs reports, the state employment agency estimated that the number of non-farm jobs in the Rochester metropolitan area topped 110,000 for the first time. DEED figured the total at 110,538, up about 900 from a year earlier and about 1,800 from May, possibly due to start-ups of seasonal summertime jobs.

Overall, unemployment was up significantly in southeastern Minnesota counties in June compared to a year earlier.

The general rate for this part of the state was 5 percent, an increase from 4.3 percent in June 2007. Most counties recorded similar rises in jobless rates; seven of 11 area counties were at or above 5 percent, figures from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development show.

A main force in the rising jobless rates continues to be growth in the labor force. More area residents were looking for work last month than a year ago. Olmsted County had about 540 more jobseekeers than a year ago, with more than 70 having found jobs and about 470 more unemployed, according to state jobs analysts.

The 11-county southeastern Minnesota area overall had about 1,000 more residents looking for jobs than in June 2007. But the number of people unemployed rose more than that boost in the labor force. Unemployment was up to just less than 13,700 people from about 11,900 a year ago.

The area’s highest jobless figure, 5.9 percent, came in Houston County, which is heavily influenced by the La Crosse, Wis., job market.

Rates in this area were comparable to Minnesota’s statewide mark of 5.3 percent, which was up from 4.8 percent a year earlier.

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