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PoliGraph: Dayton gets jobs number claims right

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Minnesota's economy was the theme of Gov. Mark Dayton's first State of the State speech delivered Wednesday.

To help make his point, Dayton said that fewer people are working today than were working eight years ago.

"Last December, there were over 77,000 more Minnesotans unemployed than in December 2002, just before Gov. Pawlenty took office," he said on Feb. 9, 2011. "There were 5,881 fewer people working in Minnesota than there were eight years ago, even though our state's population grew during that time by over 286,000 people."

Dayton's numbers are right, but they deserve some context.

The Evidence

In Dec. 2002, roughly 128,000 people were unemployed. Now, that number stands at approximately 206,000 unemployed - a difference of about 78,000, as Dayton estimated. Further, it's correct that 5,881 fewer people working in Minnesota these days, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Dayton's also in the ballpark on population growth.

But while Dayton's numbers are right, it's important to consider them in context. The national recession had a sizeable impact on Minnesota, including significant job losses between 2008 and 2009; the peak came in May of 2009, when more than 250,000 people were out of a job. In fact, before the middle of 2008, it was unusual for more than 140,000 people to be jobless.

So, Dayton's figures may be rosier had there been no recession.

The Verdict

With some context, Dayton's good on his numbers.

-- By Catharine Richert

SOURCES

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minnesota Unemployment Statistics, Dec. 2002 - Dec. 2010, accessed Feb. 9, 2011

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minnesota Population Estimates, 1998-2009, accessed Feb. 9, 2011

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, The Recession Hits Home, by Dave Snef, June 2009

The Minnesota Geospatial Information Office, Minnesota Population Estimate, accessed Feb. 9, 2010

Interview, Jeremy Drucker, spokesman, Gov. Mark Dayton, Feb. 9, 2010

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