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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
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