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County sees higher rate of employment

By Sarah Smith

When Itasca-Mantrap recently advertised for a member service person, 40 applications were submitted.

Last year there would have been 70 or 80, said CEO Michael Monsrud.

That’s how the Park Rapids employment picture has turned around.

Hubbard County is seeing its lowest unemployment rates since late 2005, according to state records compiled. That’s according to Minnesota DEED, the agency that tracks such statistics.

The unemployment record for the state stayed at 4.6 percent in December, well below the 6.7 percent rate the nation is experiencing.

That’s good news for employers like I-Man.

“We’re satisfied with them” (the 40 applications received), Monsrud said.

The Minnesota unemployment rate fell 0.2 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted 4.6 percent, DEED indicated, and those rates stayed as low through December. The U.S. unemployment rate was 7 percent in November.

Over at St. Joseph’s Area Health Services, where 325 people work, the facility barely felt a ripple of employment – or unemployment.

“We have a really low attrition rate,” said Bev Johnson, the hospital’s employment representative. “People just don’t leave.”

The hospital uses a trickle-down effect in which part time workers seek more part-time work or full-time if it’s available, Johnson said.

“RNs (registered nurses) are typically filled from within,” Johnson said, “There’s a real trickle-down effect. One RN recently told me she’s been trying to get on full-time for three years.”

Johnson said the only time she struggles to fill positions is if the position is “casual with no benefits” like a housekeeper position.

The hospital also employs four Emergency Room physicians and three hospital doctors. Those positions don’t turn over, either.

Minnesota has gained 39,800 jobs over the past year, a growth rate of 1.4 percent, compared with a U.S. growth rate of 1.7 percent, according to the DEED figures.

DEED is the Department of Employment and Economic Development. DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development.

“The labor market continues to show steady improvement, with the number of unemployed Minnesotans now below pre-recessionary levels,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben in a news release. “The state economy is growing and outperforming the rest of the country in many key categories.”

According to DEED:

n Information led all sectors in November, gaining 1,300 jobs. Other gains occurred in financial activities (up 1,200), other services (up 1,100), manufacturing (up 400), construction (up 400), and leisure and hospitality (up 100). Logging and mining was unchanged.

n Job losses occurred in government (down 3,200), professional and business services (down 1,600), trade, transportation and utilities (down 300), and education and health services (down 200).

n Nine of the state’s 11 industrial sectors have gained jobs year over year, led by education and health services (up 11,100). Other gains occurred in trade, transportation and utilities (up 10,400), leisure and hospitality (up 7,600), construction (up 4,200), professional and business services (up 3,700), financial activities (up 2,400), information (up 1,900), other services (up 600), and logging and mining (up 500).

n Job losses occurred in the past year in government (down 1,700) and manufacturing (down 800).

n In the state Metropolitan Statistical Areas, job gains occurred in the past 12 months in the Minneapolis-St. Paul MSA (up 1.8 percent), St. Cloud MSA (up 1.7 percent), Duluth-Superior MSA (up 1.2 percent), Mankato MSA (up 0.7 percent) and Rochester MSA (up 0.4 percent).

Meanwhile, if you’re a hospital employee, feel lucky.

Park Rapids is not one of the characteristically “economically depressed areas.”

Johnson said, “It’s devastating when you hear of people paying for mortgages, sending their kids to school.”

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364