5 things to know today: Early voting, Low unemployment, Missing database, Hybrid work, Raging cats – InForum

1. 110,000 North Dakotans could vote before Election Day on Tuesday

People continue to flock to early voting sites and election offices in North Dakota and Minnesota as mail-in and mail-in ballots roll out ahead of the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election.

Brian Newby, North Dakota State Elections Coordinator, predicts that about 40% of people who vote will do so before Election Day.

Based on more than 80,000 ballots returned Thursday afternoon, Newby said he could expect about 110,000 people to vote before Tuesday.

Even though in-person early voting ends for Cass County at 6 p.m. Friday, several other counties across the state are still holding in-person early voting on weekends and even Monday, the day before the election.

Burleigh and Morton counties, home to Bismarck and Mandan, for example, are holding in-person early voting Saturday and Monday, Newby said.

Grand Forks County is holding in-person early voting on Saturday, and Ward County, home to Minot, is holding in-person early voting on Monday.

Read more from Robin Huebner from the Forum

2. North Dakota’s unemployment rate drops to 1.7%

North Dakota’s unemployment rate fell to 1.7%, just two years from an 8.3% rate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Phil Davis said the drop in the unemployment rate provides a mixed bag of news.

“We just don’t have enough people to fill those jobs in our workforce anymore,” said Davis, director of workforce services for North Dakota Job Service. “If you read, most economists say that a healthcare economy has an unemployment rate of 4 to 5%. The reason they say that is that there are always people looking.”

The number of unemployed statewide for the past two months was about 650. The number represents people who certify their unemployment status to the Job Service weekly. Davis said nine weeks is the average a North Dakota person remains unemployed.

“Of those 650, about 60% of those people go back to their employers,” he said. “The employer may have closed for a few weeks or closed to clean up their facilities. That gives us maybe 200 people a week out of work. So there’s not a lot of choice for our employers.”

Employees find jobs. There are over 18,000 job postings on the Job Service website. According to Davis, the number of jobs available could be closer to 40,000 because employers are jumping at the chance to hire good, skilled workers.

“If you’re an employer and you have an opening for a welder and two quality welders come in, you’re probably going to hire both in this market right now,” he said.

Barry Wilfahrt, CEO and president of Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Chamber, said the plethora of signs for help needed in the area underscores the urgent need for workers. In Grand Forks County, the unemployment rate is 1.5%.

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3. North Dakota Launches Public Missing Persons Database

MMIW capitol

About 100 people gathered on the grounds of the State Capitol on Wednesday, May 5, and marched to bring awareness to missing and murdered Indigenous people. Michelle Griffith / The Forum.

There is a new online tool for North Dakota police and citizens to access information on missing persons in the state.

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley on Friday (November 4) announced a public database containing information on all active missing persons cases in the state.

The database contains details of the 114 missing people in North Dakota, including demographic information, photos and when they were last seen. The online resource also offers special search functions for Native Americans and missing children.

Native Americans make up more than half of the state’s missing persons despite making up only 6% of the population. Indigenous communities across North America have mounted awareness campaigns about the disproportionate rate of missing Indigenous people. Federal officials have called missing and murdered Native people an epidemic.

Violence against Indigenous women is 10 times higher than the national average, according to the Indigenous Rights Center. Last year, activists rallied in support of missing and murdered Native Americans at the North Dakota Capitol.

Fifty-two of North Dakota’s missing people are children, many of whom are Native Americans, according to the database.

The oldest case in the database dates back to 1968, while more than 20 of the people in the index were last seen in the past month.

Read more from Jeremy Turley from Forum News Service

4. Some FM companies thrive on hybrid remote work demand, while others struggle

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Blue Cross Blue Shield in South Fargo on November 1, 2022.

Chris Flynn / The Forum

Fargo-Moorhead’s business landscape will never return to how it was before the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has sent a wave of employees from hundreds of area businesses home to work remotely, where many of those employees say they have found a better work-life balance.

They could go for a morning run instead of the 30-minute commute to the office, cook a healthy lunch instead of spending money on fast food, and they’ve learned how much they appreciate the extra time saved with their family and friends.

Businesses in the region have heard these same statements over the past year from their employees. And they’re listening by shifting to fully remote or hybrid in-office and out-of-office work models.

Industries moving remotely or hybrid include information technology and other office jobs that rely heavily on the internet and communications.

“Hybrid working has really changed our organization for the better,” said Kelsey Roth, vice president of human resources at Blue Cross Blue Shield. “I think it’s because by focusing on employee well-being, we’re able to provide them with opportunities to work where they are at their best.”

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5. Do you have an outdoor cat? The Forum would like to discuss

Nin the cat

The Forum is looking to interview cat owners for a story about outdoor cats in the towns of Moorhead, Fargo or West Fargo.

Although Fargo law does not allow cats to go outside unless they are on a leash, pet owners still often let their cats roam free. The Forum wants to hear your story about what it’s like to own an outdoor cat.

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