Measuring Minnesota

by Nick Dobbins
March 2013

Earlier this year the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced that preliminary jobs numbers for February had put us near our pre-recession peak of 2,780,000, marking an important signpost on the road to economic recovery. How does our economic recovery — which is well underway — compare to our neighbors in the Upper Midwest?

Jobs and Unemployment

Table 1 compares Minnesota’s job level with those of the other four states in the Upper Midwest where we are right in the middle. It also compares our unemployment rates with those of our neighboring states. Minnesota also comes in the middle (Table 2).

Table 1: Current Employment versus Pre-Recession Peaks, by State

Area

Pre-Recession High

Date of
Pre-Recession High

March 2013 Employment

Percentage of Jobs Recovered

North Dakota

368,900

Nov-08

441,200

119.60

South Dakota

412,100

Aug-08

419,700

101.84

Minnesota

2,780,900

Feb-08

2,770,100

99.61

Iowa

1,528,000

May-08

1,517,200

99.29

Wisconsin

2,885,400

Jan-08

2,804,300

97.19

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Table 2: Current Unemployment versus Pre-Recession Lows, by State

Area

Pre-Recession
Low

Date of
Pre-Recession Low

March 2013 Unemployment

North Dakota

2.9

Apr-08

3.3

South Dakota

2.6

Feb-08

4.3

Iowa

3.6

Mar-07

4.9

Minnesota

3.9

Jun-06

5.4

Wisconsin

4.3

Apr-08

7.1

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Some of this may be population related since the states with the larger populations have had more trouble pulling out of the recession (Table 3). On the other hand, North Dakota may never have had a falling off with the population growth related to the oil fields.

Table 3: 2010 Census Population

Wisconsin

5,686,986

Minnesota

5,303,925

Iowa

3,046,355

South Dakota

814,180

North Dakota

672,591

Source: U.S. Census Bureau