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PoliGraph: Emmer's employment claim accurate

Accurate image.GIFBy Catharine Richert

A hallmark of Republican Tom Emmer's campaign for governor will be his case for smaller government.

Emmer's website says one of the shortcomings of big government is that it's replaced private sector jobs with public sector jobs.

"Today, an expansive and expensive state government has crippled our business environments and lost our greatest resource - our people," he writes. "The state's largest employers are now the State of Minnesota, our public university systems, and the federal government."

For the most part, Emmer's claim about the state's largest employers is true. His underlying point that Minnesota's economy has suffered due to the expansion of government is the source of never-ending debate among economists, and is far too complex to sort out in this investigation.

The Evidence

Emmer's campaign points to a recent study compiled by Twin Cities Business magazine, which annually ranks the state's largest employers.

The state of Minnesota is ranked first, employing 54,900 people.

The next largest employer is the Mayo Clinic, which has 37,318 people on its payroll. In third place is the federal government, which has 32,637 employees, followed by Target Corporation with 28,119 employees.

The University of Minnesota, which gets only 18 percent of its budget from the state, is in fifth place with 25,976 employees. It's important to note that the U of M is not part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, which employs about 19,500 full-and-part time workers. All told, that's 45,476 employees.

So, the entire public higher education system, which is what Emmer is talking about, ranks second.

The Verdict

While it's important to note that jobs at the universities and in government are mixed with plenty of private sector positions at the Mayo Clinic and Target, Emmer is correct that the state, schools and the federal government are among the largest employers in Minnesota.


Emmer for Governor, Bringing Back the Jobs Government Scared Off, accessed Aug. 11, 2010

Twin Cities Business Magazine, Largest Employers - Top 25, accessed Aug. 11, 2010-08-11

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Facts about the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, accessed Aug. 11, 2010

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Breaking Down the Recession's Impact, by Kyle Uphoff, accessed Aug. 11, 2010

Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota jobless rate dips to 6.8% for June, by Dee DePass, July 15, 2010

The University of Minnesota, Strategic Reductions Key to Balanced Budget, July 22, 2010

Interview, David Strom, Research Director, Emmer for Governor, Aug. 11, 2010

PoliGraph is a regular series of reports that checks the veracity of politicians' claims. It is a collaboration between Minnesota Public Radio News and the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota.

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