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The good and bad of the county's economy

The latest statistics involving the economy in Wadena County show a mixed bag of good news and bad news, said Paul Sailer of Wadena County Human Services.

Wadena County's June unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) website.

The figure is lower than the same month in 2011 (8.5 percent), 2010 (9.1 percent) and 2009 (10.6 percent), but higher than 2008 (6.5 percent) and pre-recession years.

"We've been out of the recession, technically, for a year and a half or two years, yet we're still sitting two percentage points above 2005," Sailer said.

Sailer added the lighter 2001 recession also took a toll on Wadena County, and previously the 1990s saw much lower unemployment rates.

Although the unemployment rate has decreased, statistics from DEED and Human Services show labor force participation also fell since 2009.

Additionally, the number of households turning to assistance in the month of June peaked in 2011 but fell somewhat in 2012.

Sailer said the family emergency assistance program, which decreased in spending in 2011 and 2012, tends to go toward housing-related costs, such as damage deposits, electricity hookups and energy, and the past year's mild winter led to a drastic decrease in households seeking help from energy costs.

Food support is one program that has continued to increase. Sailer said food support cases have increased partly due to relaxed eligibility requirements from the federal government.

Additionally, with the Wadena County Crisis and Referral Program in danger of closing, Sailer said Wadena County Human Services would like to see them win their appeal. Social Services works with the crisis center, though not to the same extent as the County Sheriff's Department.

Sailer said one thing that has helped Wadena County's economy during the recession is the oil boom in western North Dakota. He said people from the county have found work in the oil fields, but they bring a paycheck back to their families still living in the area.

Sailer said on the whole, the economy is better than two years ago.

The economy of Minnesota as a whole is also a mix of good news and bad news, spokesman Monte Hanson of DEED said.

Hanson said a report showed business is not doing as well in the Midwest generally, due possibly to drought and the slowdown in Europe.

However, Hanson said, June was a strong month, gaining jobs after losses for three months in a row previously. He also said roughly half the jobs lost in the recession have been gained back.

Darla Hoemberg, manager of the Minnesota Workforce Center in Wadena, said DEED's job bank website ( lists a good selection of jobs in a 50-mile radius of