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Unemployment numbers continue to improve

Updated unemployment numbers in Otter Tail County revealed some good news.

Unemployment numbers for Otter Tail County continued to improve this fall, dropping .3 percent in the county.

More good news for the area is that unlike September, when the declining jobless rate also signified fewer workers, both the labor force and the total number of jobs rose in the county.

In Otter Tail County, unemployment sits at 5.8 percent, down from 6.1 in September. The last time unemployment dipped that low in the county was October of 2008, when the unemployment rate hit 4.7 percent. The county has more employed workers than it has since August of 2009, with 28,400 active laborers.

While there are not specific numbers for the unemployment rate in Perham, according to Chuck Johnson, city Economic Development Authority director, Perham remains a job smorgasbord.

Johnson conducted an independent study of the common statement "there are more jobs in Perham than people."

According to Johnson's study, it's true.

Johnson estimates that the city has more than 3,000 jobs and has a population of roughly 2,800.

"I wanted to verify the statement that there are more jobs than people," he said. "I decided I was going to prove that to myself."

Last year, his research indicated that Perham has a job shed of 25 miles, and almost a quarter of the jobs at major companies in Perham came from outside Otter Tail County.

"Local companies constantly have some struggle to fill jobs," Johnson said.

Even more good news is the city has about 100 more jobs now than when Johnson concluded his study about a year ago.

He credits the increase in jobs to expansions at Barrel O' Fun. Growth has also been seen at Tuffy's and Bongards', Johnson said.

Job numbers in the retail sector typically remain static, Johnson said, and the same goes for the professional sector.

As for 2011, Johnson expects even more jobs.

While he couldn't release details, Johnson said a substantial project will bring in "quite a few new jobs" next year.

Johnson described the project as "serious" and said about 40 new jobs are expected to be created.

When construction concludes on the new hospital in Perham, about 25 new jobs will also be available in the city, Johnson said.