Letter from the Editor

September 2013 - Minnesota Economic Trends

A Closer Look at the Numbers

The Minnesota unemployment rate and job figures get a lot of attention when they are announced on the third Thursday of every month, frequently attracting front-page newspaper coverage statewide. Reporters and economists analyze the numbers and interpret what they say about the economy. While there are plenty of other ways to look at our economic performance, the monthly unemployment rate and job figures are arguably the most closely watched barometer in Minnesota.

This issue of Trends takes an even closer look at those numbers, breaking down the Minnesota unemployment rate by race, gender, education and other characteristics not found in the monthly numbers. Rachel Vilsack’s story “Unemployment Under a Microscope,” looks at the 2012 “Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment,” a federal report that comes out every August with an in-depth breakdown of the labor force in each state and in major metropolitan areas.

While stark differences remain in Minnesota unemployment rates by race and ethnicity, the 2012 figures show that joblessness for all groups declined last year. Undoubtedly, we still have more work to do, but the latest report is an encouraging sign, showing the state is making progress in closing the unemployment gap.

Other stories in this issue look at how well DEED’s Dislocated Worker Program matches jobs with training, what’s happening with per capita personal income in the state and what the latest Job Vacancy Survey found.

Finally, I’d like to mention Jerry Brown, a longtime DEED employee who died recently at the age of 50. Jerry was a supervisor in the Labor Market Information Office who made many contributions to this magazine over the years, including sharing a byline with three colleagues in the June issue of Trends. Besides being brilliant and an outstanding data analyst, he was a great guy who would patiently answer my questions about economic data, no matter how silly. Jerry had a lot of friends at DEED and will be greatly missed.

Monte Hanson
Editor