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Wisconsin-Minnesota Unemployment Gap Biggest in 22+ Years

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Badger State continues to endure biggest jobs crisis in the Upper Midwest during current recession

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development's announcement on Thursday that the Badger State's unemployment rate for December 2009 had increased once again by 0.5 points shines a light on the increasing gap in employment numbers between Minnesota and its neighbor to the east.

The half a percent increase in the jobless rate in Wisconsin to 8.7 percent - while the Gopher State's rate remained flat at 7.4 percent - creates a 1.3 percentage point gap in unemployment between the two states. This is the largest unemployment gap faced by Wisconsin vis-à-vis Minnesota in more than 22 years.

The last time Wisconsin's unemployment rate was 1.3 points higher than in Minnesota was in November 1987 - when the Badger State faced a 6.2 percent jobless rate with the Gopher State at 4.9 percent.

The 0.5-point increase from November to December was the 6th time in the last 14 months Wisconsin has seen its unemployment rate rise by at least 0.5 points. Such an increase had happened only nine times in the preceding 32 years.

Minnesota, meanwhile, has endured four increases of 0.5 percentage points or higher during the last 14 months, but none since February 2009. The Gopher State's jobless rate is also trending down - decreasing or remaining flat in five of the previous six months since June 2009.

Over the past 12 months, Wisconsin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has risen 47.5 percent - from 5.9 to 8.7 percent, while Minnesota's has increased just 12.1 percent - from 6.6 to 7.4 percent. The national rate has jumped 38.9 percent during this span.

Over the past 34 years, dating back to 1976, the largest gap in unemployment faced by Wisconsin to its neighbor to the west has been 3.0 points, in January 1983, when it had an 11.8 percent jobless rate.

Since 1976, Minnesota has had a lower unemployment rate than Wisconsin in 290 of the past 408 months, or 71.1 percent of the time. Wisconsin has had a lower rate in just 99 of these months, or 24.3 percent of the time. The two states have had the same rate in 19 months (4.7 percent).

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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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