Graph of the day: How’s Minnesota doing?


Having made it through a busy holiday season spending time with infographics, regression analyses, and those weird spreadsheet cousins from Ohio, the Graph of the Day is back!

Today we check in with how Minnesota is doing on employment relative to the past several years.

(Data from BLS)

Some observations:

  • The unemployment rate is still worse than it was before the recession. This is not good.
  • Minnesota’s unemployment rate as of November, 2011 (the last month for which there is data) was 5.9%. The national employment rate during the same month was 8.3%. This is slightly better for Minnesota.
  • While correlation does not necessarily indicate causation, it certainly seems that decreases in the unemployment rate correlate with more progressive administrations (the Clinton years 1992-2000 and the Obama years thus far).
  • At the same time, the conservative, tax-cut-friendly Bush administration correlates with an early increase in the unemployment rate (tied in part to the tech boom crashing to a halt at the beginning of the administration), followed by a minor decline in unemployment leading up to the big finale, the Great Recession.

It should be noted at this point that, while the biggest spike in unemployment hit during the early Obama administration, that was really the culmination of the financial collapse that started late in the Bush era. That collapse was caused by decades of financial deregulation. While this deregulation happened during both conservative and progressive administrations (and has hardly been undone in any significant way during this administration), it reached its peak during the Bush era.

This should stand as a warning to those of us concerned with the welfare of the middle and working classes. Unbridled capitalism, manifested in weak regulations and continuously shrinking taxes, destabilizes that part of the economy which matters most to people – the whole “having a job” thing.

Minnesota is in a better position than a lot of states right now with regards to unemployment (even with an increase in labor force participation over the last two years). However, we’re not out of the woods yet. Progressives need to be able to tell the story of how we got here and what we need to do to avoid a repeat performance a few years down the line.