Herald JournalHerald Journal, Jan. 5, 2004

Job growth is 'exceptional' in HL, very good in Waverly

By Paul Maravelas

Employment grew in Howard Lake and Waverly during the last two years, but declined in Montrose, according to the state's Labor Market Information Office.

Job growth has been considerable in Waverly, while Howard Lake has been called "exceptional" for adding manufacturing jobs.

When it comes to manufacturing employment, Howard Lake is one of the state's "healthiest cities," according to Regional Analyst Cameron Macht of the Minnesota Labor Market Information Office.

Employers in Howard Lake added 51 manufacturing jobs between the first quarter of 2001 and the first quarter of 2003. The town had a total of 660 jobs in manufacturing in 2003.

Thirty-five construction jobs based in Howard Lake were added in the same period, with employment in construction rising from 15 to 50.

Jobs were lost in other sectors, however, including five in retail. Job losses partially offset the gains in manufacturing and construction, so the total number of jobs in Howard Lake increased by only 15 for the period, rising from 1,296 to 1,311.

Employment trends in Howard Lake's factories are "an exception to what is happening in Minnesota," Macht said.

Minnesota lost 45,000 manufacturing jobs from 2001 to 2003. In terms of population, Wright and Sherburne Counties are two of the fastest-growing in the state, Macht added, "and the area is also adding jobs."

Employment in Montrose fell almost 14 percent, or 30 jobs, from the first quarter of 2001 to the first quarter of 2003, with 228 employed in 2001, and 198 in 2003.

The town gained one job in education, two in public administration, and four jobs in construction, but lost nine in retail.

Waverly gained 129 jobs, with 254 employed in 2001, and 383 in 2003.

The Labor Market Information Office couldn't provide more specific information, because employment data is kept private when it could readily be identified with individual businesses.

No details are released when the statistics are derived from fewer than three companies, or when more than 80 percent of employees related to the statistics are connected to one business, Macht said.

The Labor Market Information Office compares employment in the first quarter of 2001 with the first quarter of 2003, Macht said, because the economic recession reached Minnesota in the first quarter of 2001.

The statistics relate only to employers participating in the unemployment insurance system.

In Wright County, about 7.5 percent of the labor force consists of self-employed workers who aren't included in the statistics, Macht noted.

The data reflects accurately the total number of jobs lost or gained, but doesn't always reflect all of the sectors in which changes occurred.

Wright County communities gaining a substantial number of jobs included Albertville (373), St. Michael (373), Cokato (288), Delano (270), and Buffalo (117).

In a report released by the Minnesota Workforce Center System and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Glencoe, Winsted, and Lester Prairie all made the list of "Top 10 cities losing jobs" in the Southwest Central Economic Development Region, which includes Kandiyohi, Meeker, Renville, and McLeod Counties.

The Workforce Center also released a list of "Top 10 cities adding jobs" in the Southwest Central region.

Hutchinson was first, adding 215 jobs, with 10,185 employed in 2001, and 10,400 in 2003. Litchfield was second, adding 137 jobs, with 3,451 employed in 2001, and 3,588 in 2003.

Dassel was seventh on the list, adding 40 jobs, with 744 employed in 2001, and 784 in 2003.

Dassel Township was ninth, adding 36 jobs, with 59 employed in 2001, and 95 in 2003.

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