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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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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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