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Mike Nowatzki, Published July 27 2008

Job service manager says area employment still OK

The Fargo area’s employment picture remains positive despite a downturn in the national economy, says the area manager for Job Service North Dakota.

“Even though we’ve had some layoffs, people are getting hired,” said Marty Aas, Job Service manager for the southeast corner of the state.

Aas said his office currently has about 1,800 job orders from employers and another 600 openings linked from other sites, for a total of about 2,400 positions that need workers to fill them.

In the past three months, 1,934 people looking for work registered with the Fargo Job Service office, he said.

“So, even though we have a lot of openings and there’s some layoffs, people are finding jobs in the community,” he said.

The effects of MeritCare’s job cuts on the metro area’s unemployment rate aren’t known yet. Metro unemployment figures for June won’t be released until Wednesday.

The health-care provider announced in late June that it was laying off 90 employees, eliminating 120 vacant positions and reducing the hours of 90 other employees.

Aas said he doesn’t expect the cuts to have a big effect on the unemployment rate, noting that other major local employers are adding jobs.

Wind tower manufacturer DMI Industries announced last month that it would add 50 to 75 employees at its West Fargo plant as part of a

$20 million expansion.

Microsoft, when it broke ground last fall on a 185,000-square-foot expansion, said it expected to hire 200 employees this year.

“With the major employers expanding and growing, that increases the number of jobs that we have” across the board, he said.

Fargo’s unemployment rate, not seasonally adjusted, was 2.6 percent in May. That was up slightly from 2.4 percent in May 2007 but down from 2.8 percent in April of this year, according to Job Service.

North Dakota’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.2 percent in June, unchanged from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state also tied with Utah and Wyoming for the second-lowest unemployment rate in the nation, behind South Dakota at 2.8 percent.

The nation’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in June – unchanged from May but up 0.9 percent from a year earlier.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528