The Big Story Blog

3 things to know about jobs, jobless in Minnesota

Posted at 4:53 PM on October 20, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Jobs and unemployment


We spent the day chasing numbers, stories and insights on jobs and joblessness in Minnesota. Here are some of the things we found.

1.) Better than it looks? The latest Minnesota jobs data seemed to create more questions than it answered. The September jobless rate was 6.9 percent, down from August. Yet the state lost 7,400 private sector jobs.

Experts cautioned that residual job loss from the summer's state government shutdown may be making the data look worse that the reality.

"I don't think the news is quite as grim as you might think." state economist Tom Stinson told MPR News reporter Annie Baxter. Stinson agrees with estimates that put the "unsmoothed" rate at about 6.2 percent, much lower than the official rate.

"We're moving in the right direction," he added, "and moving a little faster in the right direction that one might think."

2.) Many of your friends and neighbors are still hurting. Whatever the precise Minnesota jobless percentage, there's no doubt that the job market has not bounced back from this recession as it has in others; 1981 had been the worst recession in decades but the job market re-ignited fairly quickly. Like much of the country, Minnesota's job growth hasn't bounced back in the way many hoped.


We heard as much in the stories and job advice in hindsight we got from Minnesotans in MPR's Public Insight Network.

3.) Many are being left behind. Minnesota's economy will return eventually to full strength and the jobless rate will continue to go down. But not everyone is coming back to work.

State analysts are concerned about the growing long-term unemployed in Minnesota. The percentage of people unemployed for more than a year jumped in the recession and has stayed high during the "recovery."


They are people being left behind by Minnesota's job market.

Earlier this year, state demographer Tom Gillaspy and his colleagues wrote of a disturbing and growing mismatch between the skills of those looking for work and the skills employers seek to hire" and a "lost generation" of Minnesota workers, "where those with the necessary skills do very well while those without the desired skills will struggle economically for the remainder of their lives."

That's a serious long-term worry for this state, no matter the current jobless number.

Learn anything today about jobs and unemployment that we missed? Want to share a story about life in this economy? Post something below or contact us directly.

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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