Grand Rapids outlier in Minnesota unemployment
Posted at 11:14 AM on June 14, 2011
by Michael Olson
Filed under: Around MN
Horse logging in Grand Rapids is one method used to harvest timber in Itasca County. Nearly 600 logging and manufacturing jobs have been lost in the area since 2002. Photo by Eli Sagot via Flickr
Unemployment in Minnesota hovers around 6.6 percent, but Grand Rapids has a rate that nearly doubles that. The 12.3 percent unemployment rate is rooted in a steady decline of manufacturing and forestry jobs that have continued to leave the area since 2002.
A contributing factor to the high unemployment is the desirable quality of life.
"People want to live here," Jeff Borling, Director of Itasca Business Development tells the Northland News Center. "If they lose their jobs, they aren't necessarily going to pick up and leave their homes. And more over, their home is usually on a lake."
And for others, like Cher Wedl, the downturn and lack of jobs led her to retire early.
"I've been looking, there just isn't anything," Wedl tells Northland News. "By losing my job I'm losing my health insurance, it forced me to go into a retirement earlier, and take my social security earlier than I normally would have just to make ends meet."
Itasca County is slightly better off than the city of Grand Rapids in terms of unemployment but at 9.6 percent is still significantly higher than the state average.
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