Unemployment by the numbers

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reported today Minnesota’s unemployment rate for February was 8.1 percent — dead even with the national average.

Earlier this month, however, the department released data on the counties for January that shows the varying degrees of which Minnesotans are struggling. In Clearwater County, for example, the unemployment rate is over 21%. It’s over 17% in Kanabec County.

Counties in the far southwestern part of the state, on the other hand, have unemployment rates under 6 percent. April 1983 was the last time the unemployment rate was this high (yes, now it’s 1983), although the last time the state had this few people working was around 2000. And the number of unemployed here may now be the highest in the state’s history, although the data only goes back on the department’s Web site to 1976.

Politics in Minnesota notes that the rate of unemployment increases is among the highest in the nation. State officials predict the number of lost jobs in 2009 should hit 70,000. That figure could be hit by next month since the number of unemployment has increased by 56,000 32,000 this year alone.

Update 1:42 p.m. – Interesting chart at the Minneapolis Fed’s Web site on the depth of the recession compared to other recessions.

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