Minnesota now has as many jobs as before the recession, but that doesn't tell the whole story

Minnesota now has as many jobs as before the recession, but that doesn't tell the whole story
Image by Tatiana Craine

The latest numbers from the state indicate that Minnesota has finally recovered all the jobs lost during the recession that began in early 2008.

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At the end of August, there were nearly 2.8 million jobs in Minnesota, which is the highest number since February 2008.

Relatively speaking, there's no doubt Minnesota's economy is doing well (see our post from June, "Minnesota's economy one of the fastest growing in the nation"). But the feel-good jobs number obscures two other important considerations.

First, the raw jobs numbers and the state's low unemployment rate (5.1 percent in August) don't account for the fact that many people have given up looking for work altogether. In fact, as the Star Tribune reports, August's labor force participation rate of 70.3 percent is the lowest since January 1982.

That's not good, but Steve Hine, labor market economist for the state, says he's not particularly concerned with the historically low labor force participation rate.

"The number of discouraged workers in Minnesota has fallen from 10,900 last August to 6,900 this August, so that does suggest that the decline that we're seeing in participation rates is driven more by demographic or permanent factors," Hine told the Strib, referring to the significant number of workers who are aging out of the workforce instead of giving up hope.

Secondly, the raw jobs number and unemployment rate don't account for the quality of the jobs being created. And on that score, data indicates the new post-recession jobs are lower paying and more temporary than they were in the halcyon days of 2006 and 2007.

Still, it could be a lot worse -- you could be trying to find work in Wisconsin.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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