Jobless numbers showed a sharp drop of a percentage point or more in most cities and counties across the region from March to April, according to figures released Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Several counties showed right at a 1 percentage-point decline from March to April. Steele County declined from 4.2 % in March to 3.2% in April, according to DEED. Similarly, Rice County fell from 4.0% to 3.0% and Goodhue County from 4.1% to 3.1% over the same period.

Other counties in the region showed an even stronger decline from March to April. Freeborn County dropped from 4.6% to 3.5%, Dodge County from 4.9% to 3.5%, Waseca County from 5.3% to 3.8%, and, with the sharpest drop, Le Sueur County from 7.0% to 5.4%.

Only two counties in the region — Nicollet and Mower counties — showed less than a full percentage-point drop in the jobless rate from March to April. Still, both showed a decline and both had unemployment rates of less than 3% in April, according to DEED figures. Mower County dropped from 3.8% in March to 2.9% in April. Nicollet County saw a decline from 3.2% to 2.4% over the same period.

However, when looking at a year-to-year comparison — the most accurate gauge of employment numbers, according to many economists — the April jobless figures offer a mixed bag.

For most counties in the region, the unemployment numbers are higher in April 2019 than April 2018 and in many cases slightly higher than April 2017 numbers, according to DEED.

Numbers for Le Sueur, Nicollet and Rice counties, for example, were 0.2% higher in April of this year than compared to April 2018. In April of last year Le Sueur County’s jobless rate was 5.2%, Nicollet County’s was 2.2% and Rice County’s stood at 2.8%, DEED reports.

In April 2017, Le Sueur County’s jobless rate was 5.1%, Nicollet County’s 2.3% and Rice County 3.0%.

April 2018 numbers in several counties — Dodge, Freeborn, Goodhue and Mower — were 0.3% lower than in April in this year. Dodge County went from 3.2% in April 2018 to 3.5% in April 2019. Over the same period, Freeborn County also climbed from 3.2% to 3.5%, Goodhue County from 2.8% to 3.1%, and Mower County from 2.6% to 2.9%.

In April 2017, Dodge County’s jobless rate was 3.2%, Freeborn County’s stood at 3.4%, Goodhue County’s at 3.2% and Mower County’s at 2.8%.

One county — Steele County — had the same numbers from April-to-April, 3.2% in both 2018 and 2019. That was slightly lower than the April 2017 numbers, which showed the jobless rate at 3.3%.

Only one county in the region, Waseca County, showed a decline in the unemployment numbers from April 2018 to April 2019, according to DEED. Last April, Waseca County had a jobless rate of 4.6%, compared to its rate of 3.8% in April of this year. This year’s rate for Waseca County is also lower than the rate in April 2017, which stood at 3.9%.

Cities in the region showed similar declines in the unemployment rate from March to April, DEED reports. Northfield had the lowest jobless rate in April at 2.1%, down from 2.7% in March, followed by Owatonna, which went from 3.7% in March to 2.8% in April. Albert Lea and Waseca had the exact same percentages from March to April, with unemployment dropping from 4.9% in March to 3.7% in April. Faribault, which also posted a 4.9% jobless rate in March, had its rate drop to 3.9% in April, DEED reports.

The declines in the region from March to April were similar to the statewide numbers. DEED reports an unemployment rate of 3.2% in April for Minnesota as a whole, down from 4.1% in March.

The rate for the nation as a whole declined from 3.9% unemployment in March to 3.3% in April.

Reach Managing Editor Jeffrey Jackson at 444-2371 or follow him on Twitter @OPPJeffrey.

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at jjackson@owatonna.com

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