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Iowa Endures Largest Monthly Increase in Unemployment in Quarter Century

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The new numbers released late last week by Iowa Workforce Development continue to highlight the worst employment trend the Hawkeye State has faced in more than three decades.

Iowa's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 5.1 in April to 5.8 percent in May - the biggest net and percentage increase in more than 24 years.

Since January 1976, Iowa has endured a double-digit percentage month-to-month increase in unemployment in only two months: January 1985 (23.5 percent) and May 2009 (13.7 percent).

Largest Monthly Percentage Increases in Unemployment in Iowa, 1976-2009

Month
Rate
% Increase
January 1985
8.4
23.5
May 2009
5.8
13.7
January 2009
4.8
9.1
March 2009
5.2
6.1
December 1979
4.9
4.3

The net 0.7-point increase in May 2009 is also the second largest net jump in unemployment during this 33+ year span.

Over the past four decades, Iowa has had a remarkably stable workforce and, since January 1976, unemployment has risen by more than one-tenth of a percent in just 8 out of 400 months. However, three of these largest net increases have occurred in 2009.

Largest Monthly Net Increases in Unemployment in Iowa, 1976-2009

Month
Rate
Net Increase
January 1985
8.4
1.6
May 2009
5.8
0.7
January 2009
4.8
0.4
March 2009
5.2
0.3
December 1979
4.9
0.2
April 1980
5.4
0.2
August 1980
5.9
0.2
December 1981
7.6
0.2

Iowa has had by far the most stable unemployment numbers throughout the Upper Midwest since the 1970s.

By contrast, Minnesota has had the largest number of months with a greater than 0.1-point increase in unemployment in the region, with more than 8 times as many months (65) with such increases as Iowa (8).

Wisconsin is close behind with 64 months, followed by North and South Dakota.

Months With More Than 0.1-Point Increase in Unemployment by State, 1976-2009

State
Months
Minnesota
65
Wisconsin
64
North Dakota
54
South Dakota
34
Iowa
8

Iowa Governor Chet Culver has not fared well politically during this economic downturn. Culver finished out 2008 strong with a 57 percent approval rating in December. However, that rating fell to 50 percent in January and then below the 50 percent mark in each of the five subsequent monthly polls, currently settling at 42 percent in June (SurveyUSA).

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Remains of the Data

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The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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