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Rural counties have plenty of work

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The work is in southwestern Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune. Worthington, Marshall and Jackson are employment hubs.

"Everybody who is able to work, and willing, is probably employed," said Susan Pirsig, economic development coordinator for Jackson County. "And all of our businesses are attracting people from far away."

The Minnesota Dept. of Employment and Economic Development website has an interactive map showing the counties that border Iowa sporting the lowest unemployment rates in the state – below 3 percent. Unemployment rates in the metro and southeastern counties are also low, about 4 percent.

The Owatonna People's Press reports many southeastern counties have returned to pre-recession employment levels.

BringMeTheNews reported last week that the state as a whole continued to outperform the nation, according to November numbers from DEED.

The Star Tribune story about southwestern Minnesota attributes job growth there to a vibrant farm economy. Day care costs are lower in rural areas, so both parents may work, as opposed to the Twin Cities, where day care costs may keep a parent out of the workforce.

Area employers like AGCO in Jackson report employees tend to drive long distances.

"The cost of living is often lower in the little counties, so a farmer's spouse might be willing to drive to Marshall or Brookings, South Dakota, rather than pay higher property taxes or leave the good schools of the smaller communities," said Vince Robinson, an economic development consultant in Lincoln County.

With more jobs comes demand for more housing, and new construction. A 48-unit townhouse will be built in Jackson in 2014.

An influx of local workers can't come soon enough for Brad Mohns, owner of HitchDoc, which makes trailer hitches for Harley-Davidson motorcycles in Jackson. In the past decade his business has grown from a dozen employees to 140.

"I'm turning down work because I can't find enough employees," Mohn said. "The No. 1 thing we need is housing, housing, housing."

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