New November unemployment claims in Northland are lowest since 2007An economist is ever-careful in playing the seer, but Tony Barrett of the College of St. Scholastica was confident Friday that the Great Recession is folding fast.
By: Mike Creger, Duluth News Tribune
An economist is ever-careful in playing the seer, but Tony Barrett was confident Friday that the Great Recession is folding fast.
“I really feel that in the last few months we’ve put the recession behind us,” the professor at the College of St. Scholastica said. He’s been closely studying jobless trends in the region and nation and said that since October, businesses have shown confidence in growing their staffs again. “It’s time to hire workers,” he said.
Drew Digby, Duluth regional labor market analyst for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, said numbers that will be released later this month show the smallest number of new jobless claims in November since 2007.
“It’s still a big number, but typical for November,” he said.
In the seven-county Northeast region, there were 2,730 claims for unemployment. That compares to 3,500 in November 2001.
“It’s still not a super-hot job market,” Digby said, especially for those just coming out of school. Things are looking good for job seekers who can show some experience and stand out, he said.
Digby checks the regional postings and has seen more management and technical jobs pop up. He said while low-paying jobs have been available throughout the recession, “there’s been growth in specialty jobs.”
You could say you’ve heard the song about climbing out of the recession before. That’s understandable, Barrett said. The cause of the recession is normal, aside from the financial crisis in 2008, he said.
“What’s particular to this recession is the slowness of the recovery.”
He said a “boom year” hasn’t happened to punctuate the end of slow times. “It’s been a very unexciting two-and-a-half years.”
Barrett said he doesn’t expect 2012 to provide a boom either. But he’ll be surprised if the growth rate of the national economy isn’t more than 3 percent.
“But I’d be surprised if it was more than 4 percent,” he said.
The climb will continue to be slow because household incomes aren’t where they should be yet, he said.
The current news gets better when you consider national trends, Digby said. Throughout the past three years, Minnesota, and particularly the Northeast region, has been cushioned from the depths of the recession. Last week, U.S. Department of Labor unemployment numbers hit a nine-month low. “Our recovery is picking up steam,” Secretary Hilda Solis said. She said the trend also meant more consumer demand and spending.
In the Duluth region, diversification in the job market has kept it above the direst of national numbers the past three years.
“When I first came here in 1990, all the talk was about the need to diversify,” Barrett said. He called the exploding health care and higher education markets virtually recession-proof. When the country was in a dip in 2001, he said, Duluth remained robust.
Digby said less reliance on mining and manufacturing is key. “We have a nice combination of jobs,” he said, adding to Barrett’s list with tourism and computer skill markets.
Statewide employment figures will be released Thursday and regional numbers are expected Dec. 20, Digby said.
Essentia Health job fair
One sign of the area job market opening up for professionals could be the job fair coming up Wednesday in Duluth.
The Minnesota Workforce Center, 320 W. Second St., is hosting an open house for its “Business of the Day,” Essentia Health. The health-care company is recruiting for several information systems jobs.
The fair begins at 10 a.m. and is expected to run to noon. Essentia employees will be on hand to talk about the positions and offer information about the company and the application process.
The Workforce Center offers a variety of help for job seekers in the region. Centers across the state host job fairs weekly. The Duluth office, open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, can be reached at (218) 723-4730.