Twin Ports job market sees seasonal gainThe Twin Ports area job outlook brightened today with the release of local employment figures.
The Twin Ports area job outlook brightened today with the release of local employment figures.
The combined unemployment rate for Carlton, St. Louis and Douglas counties dipped to 9.5 percent in April — down from a peak of 10 percent in March.
“This is part of a seasonal uptick. It’s a time of year when we start to really gain jobs,” said Drew Digby, a regional labor analyst for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
“If the unemployment rate hadn’t gone down, I would have been worried,” he said.
As the Twin Ports geared up for tourists, employment in the local leisure and hospitality sector rose 4.4 percent between March and April.
Digby noted that what he called “knowledge industries” also showed signs of improvement.
Employment in the professional and business services sector rose 1 percent in April.
“We’ve seen businesses such as architectural and engineering firms picking up activity. A lot of businesses that help other businesses save money have seen their services in demand,” said Digby.
As people seek retraining, the Digby said higher education has experienced a bounce, too, with educational and health employment rising 0.5 percent.
He considers this a positive sign, noting that if people were in a bigger financial pickle they might have felt more hesitant to invest in additional education.
Yet, weakness in the Northland’s mining industry continues to concern Digby. Employment in this sector was down 19.6 percent from April of last year. Digby suspects the situation will likely get worse before it gets better.
“All the mine layoffs haven’t been reflected in the data yet,” he said.
Employment in Virginia, a Range city heavily reliant on mining, slipped from 12.7 percent to 13.3 percent between March and April.
Statewide, Minnesota’s April unemployment rate was 8.2 percent, seasonally unadjusted. Nationally, unemployment was running at 8.6 percent in April.
Cloquet’s unemployment rate was 10.7 percent in April. The city of Duluth had an April unemployment rate of 7.9 percent.