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Breaking News Analysis: Minnesota's January Unemployment Numbers Set State Records

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Every month Smart Politics writes a new analysis on the latest dire unemployment numbers released by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), and each month our analysis unearths new trends behind the numbers that document why the current economic trend is the worst in generations.

January’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.6 percent is not simply the highest rate in the Gopher State since August 1983, but it also set or flirted with the following grim records, in an analysis of DEED labor statistics dating back to January 1976:

· The 0.7-point increase from December 2008 to January 2009 marks the largest 1-month percentage point increase in unemployed Minnesotans. The previous mark, 0.6 points, was set from April to May 2008 (4.8 to 5.4 percent) and from June to July 1982 (8.0 to 8.6 percent). Four of the top seven largest percentage point increases have occurred during the past nine months.

Largest 1-Month Percentage Point Increase in Minnesota Unemployment Rate, 1976-2009

Rank
Period
Point Increase
1
December 2008 – January 2009
0.7
2
April – May 2008
0.6
2
June – July 1982
0.6
4
November – December 2008
0.5
4
June – July 2008
0.5
4
May – June 1980
0.5
4
March – April 1979
0.5
Source: compiled by Smart Politics with data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

· The 10.1 percent month-to-month proportional increase from December 2008 to January 2009 is the 5th highest in state history. The current period trails only the 14.8 percent rise from August to September 1998 (2.7 to 3.1 percent), the 13.2 percent rise from March to April 1979 (3.8 to 4.3 percent), the 12.5 percent rise from April to May 2008 (4.8 to 5.4 percent), and the 12.0 percent rise from April to May 1999 (2.5 to 2.8 percent). Three of the top six highest proportional jobless rate increases since 1976 have occurred during the past nine months.

Largest 1-Month Proportional Increase in Minnesota Unemployment Rate, 1976-2009

Rank
Period
% Increase
1
August – September 1998
14.8
2
March – April 1979
13.2
3
April – May 2008
12.5
4
April – May 1999
12.0
5
December 2008 – January 2009
10.1
6
June – July 2008
9.4
Source: compiled by Smart Politics with data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

· The 3.1-point rise in the jobless rate from January 2008 (4.5 percent) to January 2009 (7.6 percent) is the largest proportional 12-month increase in state history – a jaw-dropping 68.9 percent expansion of the state’s unemployed labor force. The previous largest proportional 12-month increase was August 1981 to August 1982 when the rate increased 60.0 percent (5.5 to 8.8 percent). December 2007 to December 2008’s 46.8 percent jump was the 8th highest since 1976.

Largest Proportional 12-Month Jobless Increase in Minnesota, 1976-2009

Rank
Period
% Increase
1
January 2008 – January 2009
68.9
2
August 1981 – August 1982
60.0
3
July 1981 – July 1982
56.4
4
June 1979 – June 1980
56.1
5
September 1981 – September 1982
55.4
6
March 1979 – March 1980
52.6
7
July 1979 – July 1980
52.4
8
December 2007 – December 2008
46.8
9
October 1981 – October 1982
46.7
10
November 1981 – November 1982
45.2
Source: compiled by Smart Politics with data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

While the Minnesota unemployment rate is currently identical to the national average (7.6 percent) – the trend in Minnesota is currently worse than the country as a whole: prior to January 2009 the Gopher State had a lower jobless rate than the national average in 17 of the previous 19 months, dating back to June 2007.

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73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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