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Upper Midwestern States Bearing the Brunt of Rising Unemployment

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Although the majority of Upper Midwestern states are currently experiencing some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, the rate of increase, particularly during the last four months, has hit this region of the country particularly hard.

Overall, three of the five states with the lowest unemployment rates in the country are located in the Upper Midwest, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic's preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment numbers for the month of February: Iowa (#46, 4.9 percent), South Dakota (#47, 4.6 percent), and North Dakota (#48, 4.3 percent). The region's other states, Minnesota (8.1 percent) and Wisconsin (7.7 percent), also rank outside the Top 15 in the country (at #20 and #25 respectively).

While Michigan (#1, 12.0 percent) and California (#5, 10.5 percent) have perhaps received the most press for their economic woes and double-digit unemployment numbers, neither state is enduring the rate of increase currently being experienced in the Upper Midwest. (In fact, neither state ranks in the Top 25).

A Smart Politics analysis finds that since November 2008, four of the Upper Midwest's five states rank among the Top 15 in the nation for the largest rate of increase in unemployment claims.

· Wisconsin has fared the worst, with its unemployment rate jumping 42.6 percent since November - the third highest in the country - behind only Virginia (43.5 percent) and North Carolina (42.7 percent). That rate is 54.7 percent higher than the national average (27.6 percent). These sobering numbers might help to explain the Badger State's recent rising dissatisfaction with President Barack Obama, Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, and Governor Jim Doyle.

· South Dakota (35.3 percent) and North Dakota (34.4 percent), despite having two of the lowest jobless rates in the nation, are enduring the 8th and 9th highest rate increases since November. Smart Politics recently documented record unemployment trends in both South and North Dakota.

· Minnesota's recent record unemployment jump has landed them with a 32.8 percent rise in jobless claims since November 2008, the 14th highest in the nation.

· Only Iowa (14.0 percent) has been spared in the region, coming in with the second lowest rate of increase in unemployment among the 50 states since Election Day.

After adding Indiana (#10, 34.3 percent) and Ohio (#16, 32.4 percent) into the mix, it is evident that the national economic crisis is hitting the overall Midwest region particularly hard - not just the state of Michigan.

Other regions are, comparatively, being spared. For example, none of the Northeast region's nine states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont) rank among the Top 15 with the largest unemployment rate increases. And only one, Vermont (#17, 32.1 percent), ranks in the Top 20.

Highest Rates of Increase in Unemployment, November 2008-February 2009

Rank
State
Region
Rate
1
Virginia
South
43.5
2
North Carolina
South
42.7
3
Wisconsin
Midwest
42.6
4
West Virginia
South
39.5
5
Oregon
West
38.5
6
Washington
West
37.7
7
Alabama
South
35.5
8
South Dakota
Midwest
35.3
9
North Dakota
Midwest
34.4
10
Indiana
Midwest
34.3
11
Utah
West
34.2
12
South Carolina
South
34.1
13
Colorado
West
33.3
14
Minnesota
Midwest
32.8
15
Hawaii
West
32.7
16
Ohio
Midwest
32.4
17
Delaware
South
32.1
17
Vermont
Northeast
32.1
19
Maryland
South
31.4
20
Georgia
South
31.0
21
Florida
South
30.6
22
New Jersey
Northeast
30.2
23
New Hampshire
Northeast
29.3
24
Maine
Northeast
29.0
25
Massachusetts
Northeast
27.9
26
Kentucky
South
27.8
27
California
West
26.5
28
Tennessee
South
26.4
29
Nevada
West
26.3
30
Wyoming
West
25.8
31
Oklahoma
South
25.0
31
Michigan
Midwest
25.0
33
Illinois
Midwest
24.6
34
New York
Northeast
23.8
35
Mississippi
South
23.0
35
Pennsylvania
Northeast
23.0
37
Kansas
Midwest
22.9
38
Montana
West
22.4
39
Missouri
Midwest
22.1
40
Texas
South
20.4
41
Arkansas
South
20.0
42
Alaska
West
17.6
43
Connecticut
Northeast
17.5
44
New Mexico
West
17.4
45
Idaho
West
17.2
46
Nebraska
Midwest
16.7
47
Arizona
West
15.6
48
Rhode Island
Northeast
15.4
49
Iowa
Midwest
14.0
50
Louisiana
South
7.5
 
Average
27.6
Note: Data from U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled by Smart Politics. Regions identified by the U.S. Census Bureau's classification.

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