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Minnesota Unemployment Rate Reaches Highest Level in Nearly A Quarter Century

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The news gets bleaker and bleaker for workers in the Gopher State. The November 2008 seasonally adjusted jobless numbers have been released by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development: unemployment rose to 6.4 percent – up from 5.9 percent in October.

The number of unemployed Minnesotans increased by 14,378 to 188,925 individuals – an increase of 8.5 percent from last month, controlling for fluctuations in the labor force.

The 6.4 percent unemployment rate is the highest in Minnesota in nearly a quarter century: the last time that large a segment of Minnesotans were out of a job was May 1984. At that time, however, Minnesota was recovering from the Reagan recession – in which the jobless rate peaked at 9.0 percent in November 1982, and gradually declined over the next two years through Reagan’s re-election victory over Walter Mondale in November 1984.

Today, however, unemployment is on the rise – and has been for quite some time in the Gopher State. Since the summer of Governor Tim Pawlenty’s re-election campaign in mid-2006, unemployment has increased in 16 out of 28 months, stayed flat for 5 of those months, and dropped just 7 times. Overall, the state’s jobless rate has increased 68 percent from 3.8 percent in July 2006 to 6.4 percent today.

The large 0.5-point increase from October to November 2008 is one of three significant jumps in Minnesota’s unemployment rate this year: the jobless rate jumped 0.6 points from 4.8 percent in April to 5.4 percent in May, and rose another 0.5 points from 5.3 percent in June to 5.8 percent in July.

Such volatility in the labor market is simply unprecedented, going back decade after decade. Minnesota has not experienced even two jobless increases of 0.5 points in a calendar year since at least the mid-1970s, and the Gopher State has endured three of them in 2008.

In fact, since at least as far back as January 1976 (which marks the earliest employment data posted on the Department’s web site), the seasonally adjusted jobless rate has increased by 0.5 points or more just two times in the last 32 years prior to 2008: March to April 1979 and May to June 1980.

There is scant good news to be found in these new November numbers, especially for a state enduring a state budget crisis of near historic proportions.

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1 Comment


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  • Leave a comment


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