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Unemployment Continues to Rise at Historic Pace Across Upper Midwest

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June was not a good month for jobs in the Upper Midwest, with unemployment increasing in Minnesota and three of its four neighboring states - Iowa, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

While unemployment remains below the national average across the region, the current rate of increase of jobless claims remains on record pace in several states, and the percentage of unemployed has surpassed 25-year highs Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Iowa and South Dakota endured particularly brutal employment news in June.

Iowa's 0.5-point increase from May (to 6.2 percent) was the third largest on record since January 1976 (with the 0.6-point jump from April to May 2009 being the second largest).

While South Dakota's jobless rate rose only 0.1 points to 5.1 percent, its 12-month rate of increase of 75.9 percent is now the largest on record, according to a Smart Politics analysis of available data since 1976 at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unprecedented rate of increase in unemployment in the Mount Rushmore State is seen by the fact that the top six such 12-month rates of increase have all occurred during the first six months of 2009.

While all states in the region have seen significant increases in jobless claims from a year ago, Wisconsin has been hit particularly hard.

The Badger State's 104.5 percent rate of increase in unemployment since June 2008, from 4.4 to 9.0 percent, is tied for the largest on record (with August 1980). The 12-month change in Wisconsin is nearly triple the rate of increase in North Dakota (35.5 percent), more than double that of Iowa (51.2 percent), 1.79 times that of Minnesota (58.5 percent), and 1.38 times that of South Dakota (75.9 percent).

With the exception of North Dakota, which saw its unemployment rate drop 0.2 points from May to June, the unemployment rate is now at a 26+ year high in Minnesota, 25+ year highs in South Dakota and Wisconsin, and a 22+ year high in Iowa.

Upper Midwestern Unemployment Data and Trends

June rate (%)
Highest since
Monthly change
12-month change
12-month rate of change (%)
Note: Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by Smart Politics.

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