A flood: Just what the Red River economy did not need

Filed in Gather Money Essential by on March 25, 2009 0 Comments

The Red River floods in the spring. This year’s floods are bad and people in northwest Minnesota are once again toughing it out.

They are resilient folks. But, geez, could another once-a-century flood have come at a worse time?

It’s a crappy economy. And while agriculture — a mainstay of the Red River Valley — is faring pretty well, some of the towns along the Red River valley (the Minnesota side, at least) are seeing unemployment higher than the state average.

The newest state data show Marshall County at nearly 15 percent unemployment, Kittson County at 8.9 percent and Norman County at 8.5 percent in February. Things are better in the other border counties, but there’s no doubt it comes at a tough time.

We’ve heard from our Public Insight Network about people who’ve left their jobs to sandbag. Some folks are taking vacation time. One network person this week told us:

Anyone who has a little extra time, or who can get away from the routine of school or work goes to volunteer sites to help as they can. Compared to 1997, Schools and employers are being more generous in freeing manpower to help.

In Februrary 1997, just before the devestating floods in the valley, unemployment in northwest Minnesota ran about 8 percent. This year it’s 10 percent.

The state predicts northwest Minnesota employment will track pretty closely to overall growth in the state through 2012. Here’s hoping the flood of 2009 does nothing to change that.

If you live in the Red River valley, tell us how you and your community are doing.

About the Author ()

I'm a news junkie with particular interests in the economy and education. I covered those topics for 20 years as a reporter in Connecticut, Washington, DC, South Carolina and Minnesota. I'm at Minnesota Public Radio News now, hoping to find new w

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