Northwest Minnesota's unemployment rate saw a 0.5 percent drop over the past month, falling to 3.7 percent in August 2015. That was just above the state's rate of 3.5 percent, and was the closest the region's rate has been to the state's rate since October of last year. The 26-county Northwest planning region is home to just over 306,000 available workers, including 11,400 unemployed workers actively seeking jobs.
Despite the big drop, the region still has some of the highest county unemployment rates in the state, including Kittson and Clearwater, which were number 1 and 2 at 7.4 and 7.1 percent, respectively; as well as Mahnomen, Cass, Wadena, Marshall, and Hubbard counties, which all ranked in the top 10. In contrast, the region also has several counties among the lowest rates, including Stevens, which was the second lowest in the state at 2.1 percent; Pope, which was seventh lowest at 2.6 percent; and Clay and Douglas counties, tied for tenth lowest at 2.8 percent.
After dropping to 4.2 percent in July of 2015, Northwest Minnesota's unemployment rate is the closest it has been to the statewide rate this year. After hovering more than 1.0 percent above the state rate through the winter months, Northwest Minnesota has closed within 0.5 percent of the state rate this summer. The region followed the exact same pattern last year, which may mean that the region's unemployment rate may continue dropping in the next couple months, before rising again in the winter.
Across the 26-county planning region, there were about 295,000 employed workers and about 13,000 unemployed workers. The highest unemployment rates were found in EDR 2 - Headwaters and EDR 5 - North Central, while EDR 4 - West Central actually had a lower unemployment rate than the state, at 3.5 percent.
Interestingly, Northwest Minnesota has both the second lowest county unemployment rate in the state in Stevens County (2.6%), and the second highest rate in Clearwater County (7.4%). Other low rates in the region were found in Douglas (3.1%), Clay (3.2%) and Pope County (3.2%), while other high rates were reported in Mahnomen (5.9%), Marshall (5.4%), Cass (5.4%), and Wadena County (5.4%).
After inching up to 4.4 percent, Northwest Minnesota's unemployment rate was a half percent above the state's rate of 3.9 percent in June of 2015, and was the second highest regional rate in the state. Northwest Minnesota saw a jump of nearly 4,300 new available workers from the previous month, including about 3,600 more employed workers and about 700 additional unemployed people. The region now has over 310,500 available workers, the highest number ever reported.
Several counties in the region had very low unemployment rates, led by Stevens County at 2.7 percent - which was the second lowest rate of the 87 counties in the state - and followed by Clay (3.3 percent), Douglas (3.3 percent), Pope (3.5 percent), and Wilkin (3.5 percent), which were all among the 15 lowest rates in the state. In contrast, the highest rates in the region were found in Clearwater (7.7 percent - 3rd highest in the state), Mahnomen (6.2 percent - 5th), Wadena and Marshall (5.8 percent - tied for 6th), and Red Lake, Hubbard, and Cass (5.5 percent - tied for 9th).