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Minnesota Unemployment Rate Drops to 10-Year Low Against National Rate

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Minnesota's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell 0.1 points in August, to 8.0 percent, according to new data released by the Department of Employment and Education Development.

While the drop is modest, this marks the first time the Gopher State's unemployment rate has fallen in two consecutive months since May and June 2007 (falling from 4.7 to 4.6 to 4.5 percent from April-June of that year).

Seasonally adjusted jobless claims in Minnesota fell from 8.4 percent in June of this year to 8.1 percent in July.

With statements coming out of Washington, D.C. that the recession might be over and the stock market in the midst of a healthy rebound this year, Minnesota may have escaped reaching double-digit unemployment, as once feared earlier in 2009. Fifteen states across the U.S. were enduring jobless rates in excess of 10 percent as of July, including several in the Midwest: Illinois (10.4 percent), Indiana (10.6 percent), Ohio (11.2 percent), and Michigan (15.0 percent).

In fact, Minnesota's jobs crisis in 2009, while historic along several dimensions, is now at a 10-year low vis-à-vis the national unemployment rate. In August, unemployment nationwide rose from 9.4 to 9.7 percent, leaving the U.S. rate 1.7 points higher than the Gopher State. This is the largest percentage point difference since April 1999, when Minnesota's 2.5 percent unemployment rate was 1.8 points below the national average of 4.3 percent.

Dating back to January 1976, Minnesota's unemployment rate has only been higher than the national average in just 6 months (all in 2007-2008), has been even with the national rate in 3 months, and has been lower than the national rate in 395 months.

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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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