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Area unemployment drops

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The number of unemployed people in Billings County has nearly doubled since the same time last year, according to Job Service North Dakota statistics released Wednesday.

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Billings County Commissioner Allen Thompson said a number of factors may be the cause that left 19 people unemployed in November versus 10 the same time last year.

"An aging population and a lack of residential areas may be to blame," Thompson said. "There is also a lull in tourism around that time of year, so we lose some of our summer help in the area."

Thompson said that with the aging population there may be people who are no longer able to work energy jobs, which are abundant in the area.

Slope and Adams counties also are seeing a slight increase in unemployment.

"I'm of the opinion that everybody that is able to or wants to work in the county are," said Patti Perry of the Slope County Job Development Association. "Some are not able to meet the requirements for certain jobs and others just choose not too."

Perry added that Slope County also has an aging population which may play an important role in the unemployment rate.

In contrast Dunn, Golden Valley, Hettinger, McKenzie and Stark counties have all been able to maintain or lower their unemployment rates.

"It doesn't surprise me that unemployment rates are down with all the energy and agriculture activity in western North Dakota," said Golden Valley County Commissioner Harley Steffan. "Agriculture and the cattle business have done well this year, and that creates a business-friendly environment."

Bowman County Development Executive Director Ashley Alderson agreed with Steffan about the energy business bringing in money and jobs but added that because there is such a demand for employees in the oil field and because it is hard to compete with what they pay their employees, other service and retail businesses are finding it hard to find employees.

"Having more people in the area has put more demand on the businesses which in turn means they need more employees to keep up with demand," Alderson said.

Alderson added that many city and county commissioners and job and economic development groups are working together to bring in more businesses and employment opportunities.

Visit www.thedickinsonpress.com for a link to statewide unemployment data.

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