Doesn’t Marshall know there’s a recession?

Unemployment less than four percent? It’s the economic equivalent of defying gravity. That’s Marshall, MN right now.

The southwest Minnesota town has the best jobless rate of any Minnesota city tracked by the state Labor Department. It peaked in March at 4.5 percent then slipped back to 3.9 percent in May, less than half the state rate.

Compare that to the hardest hit city in Minnesota, Brainerd, with a jobless rate of 15.7 percent.

On Tuesday, the department releases county and local rates for June (seasonally unadjusted) so it’ll be interesting to see if Marshall stays below four percent.

UPDATE: Marshall’s June unemployment came in at 4.6 percent. Higher but still among the region’s best.

Either way, something good is happening there. Pretty much for this decade, if you live in Marshall, you’re employed if you wanted to be.

In a lot of smaller towns, the biggest employers are often government, the hospital and the school district, so job growth can be iffy. If one big private business dominates the landscape, a downturn can cause some serious problems.

Marshall’s a lot more diverse.

Mark Hanson, the city’s economic development director who’s part of our Public Insight Network, says the town offers opportunities for people from all kinds of economic backgrounds. He told us today:

The Schwan Food Company employs from all walks of life and all types work skill sets (Line worker, call center, research, to senior VP).

U.S. Bancorp hires young professional from the area (graduates of Marshall-based Southwest Minnesota State) and has stated the MN phone etiquette and work ethics have kept them in Marshall and allowed them to grow from 250 employees in 2006.

Ralco Nutrition (specialty feed producer) has grown from 40 employees 2 years ago (to 90)…Ralco is ready for its 3rd expansion since 2006.

Hanson’s list of biggest local employers includes Schwan (2,200), US Bancorp (600) and Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center (512).

I’ve got a call in to folks at the state Labor Department to see if they can tell me more about what’s going on in Marshall. If anyone has a story to tell us about the town or the southwest Minnesota economy, please post below or share a story here.

And check the map below for stories people from the network are sharing with us about the the job climate around them.

BONUS INFO: Of 372 metro areas in the country, the best unemployment rates for May were Bismarck, ND (3.5%), Iowa City, IA (3.7%) and Ames, IA (3.8%); Worst? El Centro, CA (26.8%) and Yuma, AZ (23.3%)

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