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Minnesota Endures Worst Employment Skid in 30+ Years

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Minnesota’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate now stands at 6.9 percent, according to new December 2008 numbers released by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The data continues what, by many measures, are the worst statewide jobless numbers since the collection of monthly data by the Department began in January 1976.

The first bit of sobering news for the Gopher State is that the unemployment rate rose 0.5 points during the past month – solidifying 2008 as the most volatile year on record. Unemployment increased by at least 0.4 points in five month-to-month periods last year – from April to May (0.6 points), June to July (0.5 points), July to August (0.4 points), October to November (0.4 points), and November to December (0.5 points). By comparison, monthly jobless increases of 0.4 points or larger had occurred in just 7 out of the previous 383 months, dating back to early 1976. (March to April 1979 (0.5 points), May to June 1980 (0.5 points), September to October 1981 (0.4 points), February to March 1982 (0.4 points), March to April 1982 (0.4 points), June to July 1982 (0.6 points), and August to September 1998 (0.4 points).

Additionally, the unemployment rate in Minnesota is now at its highest rate since January 1984, but that does not even begin to tell the story of the precipitous decline experienced in 2008. Looking at end of the year, December-to-December numbers from 1976 through 2008, the 2.2-point jobless increase from December 2007 (4.7 percent) to December 2008 (6.9 percent) was the second largest increase during this 30+ year span – behind only the 2.4-point jump from December 1981 (6.4 percent) to December 1982 (8.8 percent).

Finally, the last 12 months also mark the single largest end-of-the-year percentage increase in unemployment in the Gopher State on record at the DEED – a 46.8 percent rise from December 2007 to December 2008. That is nearly a 7-fold increase from December 2006 to December 2007 (6.8 percent), and a more than 20-fold increase from December 2005 to December 2006 (2.3 percent). The previous largest December-to-December percent increases were 1981 to 1982 (37.5 percent rise) and 2000 to 2001 (33.3 percent).

With devastating numbers like these, it is little wonder Governor Tim Pawlenty put in some face time in Washington, D.C. during inauguration week to state his support and good wishes for President Barack Obama. No doubt the Governor would also appreciate federal support in kind to alleviate the serious economic problems the state of Minnesota (and much of the nation) is now facing.

End-of-Year Unemployment Rate Change in Minnesota, 1976-2008

Period
Point change
Percent change
2007 to 2008
2.2
46.8
2006 to 2007
0.3
6.8
2005 to 2006
0.1
2.3
2004 to 2005
0.0
0.0
2003 to 2004
-0.7
-14.0
2002 to 2003
0.6
13.6
2001 to 2002
0.0
0.0
2000 to 2001
1.1
33.3
1999 to 2000
0.5
17.9
1998 to 1999
0.2
7.7
1997 to 1998
-0.4
-13.3
1996 to 1997
-0.7
-18.9
1995 to 1996
-0.2
-5.1
1994 to 1995
0.2
5.4
1993 to 1994
-0.9
-19.6
1992 to 1993
-0.4
-8.0
1991 to 1992
-0.2
-3.8
1990 to 1991
0.2
4.0
1989 to 1990
0.3
6.4
1988 to 1989
0.6
14.6
1987 to 1988
-0.6
-12.8
1986 to 1987
-0.7
-13.0
1985 to 1986
-0.9
-14.3
1984 to 1985
0.2
3.3
1983 to 1984
-1.0
-14.1
1982 to 1983
-1.7
-19.3
1981 to 1982
2.4
37.5
1980 to 1981
0.7
12.3
1979 to 1980
0.8
16.3
1978 to 1979
1.0
25.6
1977 to 1978
-0.7
-15.2
1976 to 1977
-1.4
-23.3
Note: Denotes December-to-December changes; data compiled from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.



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