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Minnesota Has 2nd Largest Decrease in Unemployment in U.S. Since Obama Took Office

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Seven-state West North Central geographical division of the Midwest continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in the nation

Although Minnesota's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 7.6 percent for the month of October, the Gopher State's trend in jobless claims has generally been headed in the right direction since President Barack Obama took office, particularly when compared to most other states in the country.

A Smart Politics analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data finds that Minnesota's unemployment rate has decreased at the second highest clip in the nation since Obama's first full month in office at the White House in February 2009.

Since February, the state's jobless rate has seen a net decrease of 0.4 points, from 8.0 to 7.6 percent. This 5.0 percent decline in unemployment in Minnesota is second in the nation only to Vermont's 8.5 percent drop.

Only two other states, Colorado (-4.2 percent) and North Dakota (-2.3 percent), have experienced a net decrease in the rate of unemployment during this 9 month span, with Virginia even at 0.0 and the 45 other states seeing a net increase in unemployment from February to October.

California, Delaware, Florida, and South Carolina are currently enduring the highest unemployment rates on record for those respective states, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data going back to January 1976 (so too is the District of Columbia).

Overall, Minnesota currently has the 17th lowest unemployment rate in the nation, and its 2.6-point differential against the national average (10.2 percent) is the largest for the Gopher State in more than 17 years (July 1992).

Even though Minnesota's neighboring state of Iowa has the 8th lowest jobless rate in the nation, it has experienced the fourth largest rate of increase since February - a 36.7 percent rise in unemployment claims from 4.9 to 6.7 percent.

Statewide Average Change in Unemployment Rate, February-October 2009

Rank
State
Feb-09
Oct-09
Change
1
Vermont
7.1
6.5
-8.5
2
Minnesota
8.0
7.6
-5.0
3
Colorado
7.2
6.9
-4.2
4
North Dakota
4.3
4.2
-2.3
5
Virginia
6.6
6.6
0.0
6
North Carolina
10.7
11.0
+2.8
7
Indiana
9.4
9.8
+4.3
8
Maine
7.8
8.2
+5.1
9
Oregon
10.7
11.3
+5.6
10
Montana
6.0
6.4
+6.7
11
Maryland
6.8
7.3
+7.4
12
Wisconsin
7.8
8.4
+7.7
12
Mississippi
9.1
9.8
+7.7
14
South Dakota
4.6
5.0
+8.7
15
Ohio
9.5
10.5
+10.5
16
Hawaii
6.5
7.2
+10.8
17
Georgia
9.2
10.2
+10.9
18
South Carolina
10.9
12.1
+11.0
19
Missouri
8.3
9.3
+12.0
19
Washington
8.3
9.3
+12.0
21
Alaska
7.9
8.9
+12.7
22
Nebraska
4.3
4.9
+14.0
23
Kansas
5.9
6.8
+15.3
24
New York
7.8
9.0
+15.4
25
Massachusetts
7.7
8.9
+15.6
26
Florida
9.6
11.2
+16.7
26
Tennessee
9.0
10.5
+16.7
28
Pennsylvania
7.5
8.8
+17.3
29
California
10.6
12.5
+17.9
30
New Jersey
8.2
9.7
+18.3
31
Arkansas
6.4
7.6
+18.8
32
Connecticut
7.4
8.8
+18.9
33
Delaware
7.3
8.7
+19.2
34
New Hampshire
5.7
6.8
+19.3
35
Kentucky
9.3
11.2
+20.4
36
Rhode Island
10.5
12.9
+22.9
37
Arizona
7.4
9.3
+25.7
38
Michigan
12.0
15.1
+25.8
39
Utah
5.1
6.5
+27.5
40
Texas
6.5
8.3
+27.7
41
Illinois
8.6
11.0
+27.9
42
Oklahoma
5.5
7.1
+29.1
43
Alabama
8.4
10.9
+29.8
43
Louisiana
5.7
7.4
+29.8
45
Nevada
10.0
13.0
+30.0
46
Idaho
6.7
9.0
+34.3
47
Iowa
4.9
6.7
+36.7
48
West Virginia
6.0
8.5
+41.7
49
New Mexico
5.4
7.9
+46.3
50
Wyoming
3.9
7.4
+89.7
Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by Smart Politics.

Despite being home to the beleaguered state of Michigan, which has the highest unemployment rate in the U.S at 15.1 percent, the greater 12-state Midwest Region (Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan) has the lowest jobless rate in the nation with a statewide average of 8.3 percent - up 13.7 percent from February (7.3 percent).

The 16-state Southern Region continues to have the highest such rate in the country, with a statewide average of 9.3 percent. However, it is the 13-state Western Region that has endured the largest percentage uptick since Obama took office, at 20.3 percent.

Statewide Average Change in Unemployment Rate by Geographical Region, February-October 2009

Region
States
Feb 09
Oct 09
Change
Midwest
IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD, WI
7.3
8.3
+13.7
Northeast
CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT
7.7
8.8
+14.3
South
AL, AR, DE, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV
7.9
9.3
+17.7
West
AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY
7.4
8.9
+20.3
Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by Smart Politics.

The 7-state West North Central Division of the Midwest Region in which Minnesota is located (along with Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and the Dakotas) also has by far the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 6.4 percent - with the next lowest division being the West South Central states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas at 7.6 percent.

The highest geographical divisional rate comes in the neighboring East North Central states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, whose statewide average jobless rate of 11.0 percent continues to be the largest in the nation.

Minnesota's West North Central Division has also experienced the lowest rate of change since February, with an average increase of 10.3 percent in each of its member states.

The Mountain States (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming) have seen an increase of almost three times that amount, at 27.7 percent.

Statewide Average Change in Unemployment Rate by Geographical Division, February-October 2009

Division
States
Feb 09
Oct 09
Change
West North Central
IA, KS, MN, MO, ND, NE, SD
5.8
6.4
+10.3
Pacific
AK, CA, HI, OR, WA
8.8
9.8
+11.4
New England
CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT
7.7
8.7
+13.0
South Atlantic
DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV
8.4
9.5
+13.1
East North Central
IL, IN, MI, OH, WI
9.5
11.0
+15.8
East South Central
AL, KY, MS, TN
9.0
10.6
+17.8
Mid-Atlantic
NJ, NY, PA
7.8
9.2
+17.9
West South Central
AR, LA, OK, TX
6.0
7.6
+26.7
Mountain
AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, UT, WY
6.5
8.3
+27.7
Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by Smart Politics.

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4 Comments


  • Whoa! We never did get as bad as 1982, but it's interesting to note the percent of change. Nevada must really be hurting, for example.

    Jobs. What's the best way to foster jobs. I wonder what Tom Stinson has to say about that... I haven't heard an actual job plan, yet, nuts and bolts plan, that is.

  • Minnesota State Economist Tom Stinson is a straight shooter and speaks truth to power. I can imagine the governor grimaces when Mr. Stinson candidly speaks about our state budget and how it could use "revenue increases and budget cuts" and in what measures.

    Stinson has supported bonding bills that pay for capital projects and discouraged tax incentives as policy options for lawmakers to help the economy. Stinson said tax incentives are of "questionable value" and are "very unlikely" to help the immediate recovery effort in the next couple years. Stinson said incentives might provide "political cover" to lawmakers but wouldn't provide the needed boost to the economy.

    I hope that he is asked to stay on in the next governor's administration regardless of whether it will be a GOP or DFL governor.

  • Regarding Mr. Stinson, I have to agree with "being goode." It's more than a little refreshing to hear an economist call the bluff of some of the more outrageous corporate subsidizers and at the same time remind those of us on the left that there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. By all means, let's keep someone connected to fiscal reality in a position where they can at least influence policy from time to time, rather than turning budgetary matters over to panderers of the right and left.

    Meanwhile, in regard to the unemployment piece... I'm old and retired, but my son has been unemployed for 17 months despite jumping through interview hoops and sending out dozens of resum├ęs sent. Frankly, I only care a little bit about the overall numbers for the Upper Midwest, or even about Minnesota. As far as I'm concerned, the unemployment rate hasn't declined at all, and remains at 100 percent until he gets hired.

  • Let's hope this is the sign of more good to come, economy-wise. It's certainly easier to qualify for a mortgage if one is employed, so maybe an uptick in the real estate market will help drive the economy?

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

    Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

    Political Crumbs

    Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

    Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


    An Idaho Six Pack

    Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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