The jobless rate in Stearns and Todd counties dropped in May as did the size of the labor force available to work. The Stearns jobless rate fell from 5.6 to 4.9 percent while Todd dropped from 6.4 percent to 5.1.
The reduction in joblessness was helped by the decline in the number of people available to work. The work force shrinkage was fueled by people moving away, retiring or giving up on finding a job. Stearns had a loss of 339 available workers from April while Todd saw a loss of 36.
The number of people employed in each county increased from April, with Stearns adding 240 jobs and Todd adding 125. Since May 2012, Stearns has added 466 jobs while Todd has lost 230.
Surrounding counties all saw a drop in the jobless rate from April to May as the late spring finally arrived and seasonal hiring got under way. Benton County went from 6.8 percent to 5.6, Douglass from 5.0 to 4.1, Kandiyohi from 5.2 to 4.2, Meeker from 6.6 to 5.2, Morrison from 8.2 to 6.1, Pope from 4.4 to 3.8, Sherburne from 6.0 to 5.0, Wadena from 7.9 to 6.5 and Wright from 6.3 to 4.8 percent.
Compared to a year ago, Stearns dropped from 5.0 percent to 4.9 percent while Todd remained steady at 5.1 percent. Among surrounding counties, only Benton and Morrison had higher jobless rates than a year ago, while Pope County held steady.