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Counting One's Blessings: Minnesota's New Unemployment Numbers

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Minnesota is one of only four states nationwide which has not experienced a rise in unemployment in any month since May 2009

Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development announced on Thursday that the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February held steady at 7.3 percent for the second consecutive month.

While the Gopher State has a long way to go to return to pre-recession employment levels, Minnesota is not experiencing the level or rate of job losses that most states have faced.

For example, last week Smart Politics reported that Minnesota had the lowest increase in employment among the 50 states through the first year of Barack Obama's administration, at just 1.4 percent from January 2009 through January 2010, while the statewide average across the nation was 25.5 percent.

Minnesota has also climbed 16 spots through January - from #29 to #13 - on the list of states with the lowest unemployment rates in the country, leaping more states than any other during this one-year span.

Now with February's new numbers in, the Gopher State has extended its streak to nine months in a row with a declining or flat unemployment rate - falling 13.1 percent from May 2009 (8.4 percent) to February 2010 (7.3 percent).

Minnesota's jobless rate was 8.4 percent last May and June, fell to 8.3 percent in July, 8.1 percent in August, 7.9 percent in September, 7.7 percent in October, 7.6 percent in November, 7.4 percent in December, and 7.3 percent in January and February.

Although this decline in joblessness is only modest, consider what is happening around the rest of the United States.

Through January, only four states in the country had not experienced an increase in unemployment in any month dating back to May 2009 - Minnesota, Indiana, North Dakota, and Vermont. (February data has not yet been released in most states as of Thursday).

By contrast, 26 states plus the District of Columbia have not experienced a decrease in unemployment in any month during this span - seeing its rates either increase or stay flat in every month.

Nine of these states (plus D.C.) have endured rising unemployment rates in every month since May, not even seeing its rates flatten, let alone decrease, for a single month: Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, and West Virginia.

The other 17 states which did not experience a drop in unemployment from May 2009 through January 2010 are Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

Despite the Gopher State's fortunate standing over the past year with regards to jobs relative to the rest of the country, Minnesota is still facing an unemployment rate that is 49 percent higher than its average rate over the past 34+ years dating back to 1976.

Across the last 410 months, Minnesota's average seasonally adjusted jobless rate has been 4.9 percent.

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Political Crumbs

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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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