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Frank A. Douglass Insurance Agency

Economic momentum building in the Keweenaw

A strong summer season is consolidating into lasting economic gains for the area, says Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance Executive Director Jeff Ratcliffe. He summarized the findings to wrap up the organization’s virtual breakfast on Thursday morning. Ratcliffe said the positive momentum began with “strong” tourism and construction seasons. He notes that many firms are expecting building costs to remain elevated for this year as well.

Perhaps most promising for the Keweenaw is the fact that the increased investment is leading to hiring. The unemployment rate skyrocketed to between 16 and 30 percent for Houghton, Keweenaw, and Baraga Counties last spring. It has plummeted to 3.5% in Houghton County, with Baraga County logging a respectable 6.4% as of November. Additionally, that strength is coming with increased participation.

The interesting part for Houghton and Keweenaw, and especially Houghton, is that our labor force is being shown to grow. So starting in June, our labor force went up, and it went up higher than 2019. There is movement and activity in our economy.

By contrast, the unemployment rate can go down if enough people drop out of the labor force, essentially giving up. This tends to happen in times of great economic turmoil. During those circumstances, declining unemployment rates are not actually driven by newly created jobs. To find out other topics discussed at the breakfast, click here.

Photo courtesy of the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance website.

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