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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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Remains of the Data

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Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


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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