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Mitchell’s job count at all-time high

More people are employed in Mitchell now than ever before.

According to new statistics from the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation, the number of people employed in Mitchell has grown 8.4 percent this year and reached 9,130 in July -- the highest total since at least 2006, when the department began tracking employment statistics at the city level.

“We’ve never had this many jobs in Mitchell,” said Bryan Hisel, executive director of the Mitchell Area Development Corp. and the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce. “We’re setting records in terms of the number of jobs.”

After climbing to 8,780 last October, employment in the city went on a three-month slide and fell to 8,425 in January. It then increased in each of the next six months.

“We rebounded and have grown in our manufacturing segment and in communication technologies,” Hisel said.

The number of people employed in Davison County, of which Mitchell is the county seat, has also increased by 8.4 percent this year, from 10,820 in January to 11,725 in July. That’s the highest total since at least 1990, according to the Department of Labor and Regulation.

As winter approaches, the number of jobs in Mitchell will decline as seasonal jobs in the tourism and construction industries start to vanish, Hisel said.

“July is traditionally our highest employment month,” he said, “but we’re certainly not on a bad trend.”

Mitchell has added 1,120 jobs since 2009, when the city’s total employment fell as low as 8,010 and the unemployment rate peaked at 7.4 percent.

“That was the year the recession kicked us in the rump,” Hisel said.

The non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (the only rate provided for cities) in Mitchell was 2.9 percent in July. That’s the first time the city’s unemployment rate has fallen below 3 percent since November 2008.

The comparable, non-seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in July. The statewide rate has declined or remained unchanged each month since January, when the rate was 4.9 percent.

With at least six either recently completed or ongoing apartment and housing projects in Mitchell, Hisel said, more people could move to the city for employment. The housing projects are the result of a recent study that identified a need for more housing in the city.

“What it does is open up options for people to live here,” Hisel said.

To continue to expand its economy, he said, Mitchell and the surrounding area will need to grow its population and continue to attract young, skilled workers.

“The challenge ahead of us will be to continue to grow our population base so we can offer more people more jobs.”

South Dakota had the second lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate -- 3.9 percent -- in the nation in July, behind only North Dakota, where the rate was 3 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The comparable national unemployment rate was 7.4 percent in July, down slightly from 7.6 percent in June. Seasonal adjustments in unemployment rates remove certain impacts from seasonal industries like construction and tourism.