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Fun With Statistics

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By Dave Senf
david.senf@state.mn.us
January 2021

The eye-popping surge in the number of workers in Minnesota and across the nation seeking jobless benefits in April and May were for a while only captured by in real-time by weekly initial claims, continuing claims, and insured unemployment rate.  Regular monthly job loss and unemployment rates didn't come close to keeping up with the speed of the unemployment crisis.

The weekly Thursday report on initial claims for unemployment benefits, continuing claims, and insured unemployment rates by state become key indicators for evaluating the degree to which state economies were being slammed by the pandemic and later in the year for how fast labor markets were rebounding. The Tableau visualization linked below displays weekly state insured unemployment rates for all of 2020 except for the last few weeks of December. The insured unemployment rate is the ratio of continuing unemployment insurance claims to total covered employment. Jobs are considered covered if employers pay unemployment insurances taxes on their employees. In Minnesota the estimated monthly unemployment rate has average roughly twice the average insured unemployment rate since 1987.

Minnesota's insured unemployment rate peaked in late April and then started to decline, falling below the U.S. rate in July before gradually increasing in November and December as the pandemic's second wave swamped the state.  Minnesota's insured unemployment rate has been slightly higher than the national rate since mid-November

The insured unemployment rate visualization can be found at https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/magda.olson/viz/StateInsuredUnemploymentRates-JanuarytoDecember2020/Dashboard1.

Updated state unemployment rates can be found at https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/claims.asp.

Insured Unemployment Rate

Source: Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor - https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/wkclaims/report.asp.

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