Jobless rate remains flat in region

Published 10:52 am Thursday, March 31, 2016

By Jeffrey Jackson

Owatonna People’s Press

Jobless numbers across the region remained steady from January to February, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reported Tuesday.

Most counties show a slight decrease — generally, a 1/10th of 1 percent dip — in the unemployment rate over that period, DEED report. Only Dodge and Nicollet counties saw an increase in the rate, though the increase was also slight. Nicollet County’s jobless rate went from 3.1 percent in January to 3.2 percent last month. Dodge County also saw a slight uptick, from 4.9 percent to 5 percent over the same period.

Two counties — Mower and Steele — remained steady from January to February, with Mower County remaining at 3.7 percent and Steele County at 4.2 percent.

The rest of the counties in the region saw a slight decline.

Le Sueur County dropped from 6.5 percent to 6.3 percent. Waseca County dipped from 5.4 percent in January to 5.3 percent in February. Goodhue County went from 4.6 percent to 4.5 percent, Freeborn County from 4.5 percent to 4.4 percent, and Rice County from 4.3 percent to 4.2 percent.

The numbers are also slightly better than they were at the same time last year.

In February 2015, Nicollet County was on the low end of the jobless rate at 3.1 percent, followed by Mower County at 4.2 percent, Rice and Steele counties at 4.3 percent, Freeborn County at 4.5 percent, Waseca County at 5.5 percent and Le Sueur County at 6.4 percent.

Goodhue County’s unemployment rate in February 2015 is the same as its rate in February of this year — 4.5 percent. Only Dodge County has a higher unemployment rate from February of last year to February of this year, and that only slightly — 4.9 percent to 5 percent, respectively.

City unemployment rates remained virtually unchanged as well over the January-February period, according to DEED figures.

Waseca saw the biggest decline in the jobless rate, dipping from 5.7 percent in January to 5.4 percent last month. Albert Lea and Faribault also saw declines, from 4.9 percent to 4.7 percent in Albert Lea and from 6.2 percent to 6 percent in Faribault.

Both Austin and Owatonna, like their home counties of Mower and Steele, saw no change in the jobless rate over the same period, the DEED report says. Austin’s unemployment rate stood steady at 3.7 percent while Owatonna’s remained at 4.2 percent.

Only Northfield saw a slight increase to 3.5 percent in February from 3.4 percent in January.

Though Waseca saw a decline in the jobless rate over the January-February span, the actual number of those employed in the city also decline. The number of those employed in Waseca went from 4,742 in January to 4,683 in February. The city also saw a decline in the labor force, from 5,031 in January to 4,952 in February.

The unemployment rate in the region is comparable to statewide numbers. In February, the jobless rate in Minnesota stood at 4.4 percent, down from 4.5 percent in January.

Nationally, the unemployment rate stands at 5.2 percent in February, down from 5.3 percent the previous month.