Jobs and Minnesota governors: The recent track records

Here’s a post from MPR News editor Bill Catlin

With the surge in employment over the past six months the Department of Employment and Economic Development reported this week, we wondered which of the past several governors presided over the most job growth as of 26 months in office.

The data go back as far as 1990 and Arne Carlson’s first month in office.

The results are here. (Because total employment was different at the start of each governor’s term, we’ve indexed the start to 100 to allow valid comparisons.)

Now, a couple of important caveats.

1) Governors get a lot of heat for bad times, and try to take credit for good times. But, in economic reality, they have little influence over the health of the job market.

2) Recessions confound.

Both the Carlson and Jesse Ventura terms spanned recessions unlike Tim Pawlenty’s and (so far) Mark Dayton‘s. The 1990-91 recession was very mild in Minnesota. The 2001 recession packed more punch.

Both Pawlenty and Dayton took office amid very slow economic recoveries. But the economy Dayton inherited was much more brutalized by the Great Recession (160,000 Minnesota jobs lost) than the one Pawlenty inherited ( 53,000 jobs lost).