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Job numbers are falling in Wadena County

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Wadena, 56482
Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson, P.O. Box 31 56482

In community meetings, the topic keeps being brought up: Wadena needs more full-time, good-paying jobs to attract families.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has statistics on Wadena County and other United States counties updated through 2010 and going back to 1969.

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According to the BEA's CA-34 data set on average wages and salaries by county, the average wage per job in Wadena County in 2010 was $30,804 per year.

This is the mean average - not the median - taken from total disbursements to wages and salaries ($187,321,000) and divided by the total number of both full-time and part-time wage and salary jobs (6,081).

In contrast, the statewide average wage per job was $45,990. Since 1969, the average wage per job in Wadena County has been between 63 and 74 percent of the state average wage per job. The statewide average is skewed heavily toward the metro area counties, however.

For nearby counties in 2010, the mean average job was $30,894 in Becker, $25,533 in Cass, $32,055 in Crow Wing, $33,441 in Douglas, $29,590 in Hubbard, $30,633 in Morrison, $31,390 in Otter Tail and $30,410 in Todd.

Economist Mauricio Ortiz said the number of jobs in this data set includes people who are hired for wages and salaries, and does not include people who are self-employed and business owners.

He emphasized the number of jobs is not to be confused with the number of people holding jobs - some people have multiple jobs - and the average wage per job is not to be confused with average income.

He also said the numbers for wages and salaries do not include employer contributions to health care benefits.

In its historical statistics, the BEA data does not take inflation into account. According to the national Consumer Price Index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the year with the highest average wage per job was 2007 - the average wage of $29,684 would have had the buying power of $32,371 in 2012 dollars.

The actual buying power of average wages in Wadena County was worst in the stagflation era of the late 1970s, with the low point being $9,600 in 1981 - the equivalent of $23,938 in 2012 dollars.

The number of jobs in Wadena County went from 3,354 in 1969 to 5,140 in 1981. The early 1980s recession then hit Wadena hard, as 1982 saw 4,114 jobs - about a 20 percent loss in one year alone. That year, the average yearly wage went up to $27,721 in 2012 equivalent dollars - suggesting that most of the jobs lost were lower-paying jobs. It took about ten years to recover the number of jobs lost in one year.

In terms of the share of jobs in Wadena County compared to the state, however, Wadena has not returned from its late 1970s and early 1980s peak. Between 1975 and 1981, Wadena County had between 0.28 and 0.3 percent of the state's jobs.

From 1982 to 1994, it had between 0.22 and 0.23 percent of the state's jobs.

From 1995 to 2004, it had between 0.24 and 0.25 percent of the state's jobs.

From 2005 to 2010, it had between 0.22 and 0.23 percent of the state's jobs.

The number of jobs in Wadena County climbed during the 1990s and peaked in the year 2000 with 6,934, then started a pattern of losing jobs. The number of jobs went up again in 2008, then fell in the next two years with the Great Recession.

In 2010, Wadena County had only 87.7 percent of the number of jobs that existed in 2000. In contrast, the state of Minnesota overall retained 98.55 percent of the number of jobs from 2000 to 2010.

In terms of total money paid out to all wages and salaries paid in Wadena County, 2008 was the highest not adjusted for inflation with $196,479,000. Adjusted for inflation, 2004 was the highest with $174,628,000 in actual contemporary dollars and $209,539,730 2012 equivalent dollars.

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