This is perhaps the first time in Minnesota history (with the possible exception of the Great Depression) that the unemployment level has surpassed 200,000. The total number of unemployed Minnesota workers actively seeking work in December hit 202,800, surpassing the previous monthly high of 195,843 set in November of 1982. State unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics extends back to 1976.
With the exception of the current decade, Minnesota unemployment dropped below 100,000 for at least a few months during each of the economic recoveries of the last thirty years. However, during the tepid recovery prior to the current recession, unemployment never dropped below 110,000. On top of this, Minnesota unemployment skyrocketed in 2008 at rate not seen since 1982. The number of unemployed workers in Minnesota has more than doubled since the beginning of the decade.
The unemployment rate in Minnesota has also risen from 6.4 percent in November to 6.9 percent in December-the highest rate in nearly a quarter century. To make matters worse, State Economist Tom Stinson has said that he expects unemployment to continue increasing in 2009.
Minnesota is facing economic challenges of the magnitude not seen since the 1930s. Many of the forces arrayed against us are global in nature and cannot be controlled by state government. However, public investment in our infrastructure and human capital can mitigate the worst effects of the recession and lay the groundwork for a prosperous economy in the long term.
With a $5.5 billion deficit, how do we get Minnesota’s economy moving again? Share your ideas below.