Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Mike Gainor
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Unemployment is bad; we've seen worse

Unemployment rates jump


Pine County employment took a hit with the COVID-19 shutdown, but the unemployment rate is still well below the worst that the county has endured.

Pine County unemployment rose to 12% in April 2020 according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). This was a jump of more than 5% from March 2020, and includes more than 700 jobs lost – at least temporarily.

Pine County had the fifth highest unemployment rate in Minnesota in April. The only counties with higher unemployment were Cass County (13.2%), Clearwater County (13.7%), Cook County (15.1%) and Mahnomen County (17.5%).

Pine County’s unemployment rate was the highest in the region, though all area counties were above the state average of 8.6%. Chisago County came in lowest at 9.4%; next was Isanti County (9.6%), Carlton County (10.7%), Kanabec County (10.8%) and Aitkin County (11.3%).

Pine County had a labor force of 15,085, with 13,277 employed and 1,808 unemployed in April.

33rd worst month

It was a rough month for county employment. The last time the unemployment rate in Pine County was above 10% was in January 2013, and the last time it was above 12% was in March 2010.

But April 2020 was by no means the worst month for unemployment in Pine County’s history. Since records were first kept in 1990 by DEED, there have been 32 months with higher than 12% unemployment. Twenty-six of those months came between 1990-97. The rate remained below 12% between 1997-2008. There were then three months above 12% in 2009 and another three months above 12% in 2010. The rate remained below 12% for the next decade.

The highest-ever recorded Pine County unemployment rate was 16.4% in February 1991. The lowest Pine County unemployment rate on record was 2.6% in September 2018.

DEED data shows that unemployment in Pine County traditionally rises in winter and early spring, then heads back downward. However, 2020 has proven to be anything but a traditional year.

Minnesota and U.S.

DEED reported that Minnesota’s unemployment rate climbed to 8.6% in April.

The April 2020 unemployment rate in the United States as a whole rose to 14.4%.


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