For those wondering why Wisconsin’s evaluation of the job performance of President Barack Obama, its Governor, Jim Doyle, and its U.S. Senators, Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, has been quite critical in recent months, one may only need to stop and consider the record-setting trend in unemployment the Badger State is currently enduring.

On Thursday Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development announced unemployment rates had increased once again, with the seasonally adjusted rate rising a hefty 0.7 points from 7.8 percent in February to 8.5 percent in March.

This marks the fifth consecutive month in which unemployment has increased at a clip of at least a half a percentage point in Wisconsin – continuing the worst unemployment skid in more than three decades. Prior to the last half year, unemployment had increased at 0.5 points or more in only two consecutive months, April to May 1980 and March to April 1982. In fact, jobless claims have only increased at one-half of a percentage point or more just 14 times in total since January 1976.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has now eclipsed that of Minnesota (8.2 percent), for the first time since August 2007. In fact, Minnesota’s jobless rate had outpaced Wisconsin by at least half a percentage point for 12 of the past 13 months.

Minnesota vs. Wisconsin Unemployment Rate

Month
Minnesota
Wisconsin
Difference
September 2007
4.7
4.6
+0.1
October 2007
4.7
4.6
+0.1
November 2007
4.6
4.5
+0.1
December 2007
4.8
4.5
+0.3
January 2008
4.8
4.4
+0.4
February 2008
5.0
4.5
+0.5
March 2008
5.1
4.4
+0.7
April 2008
5.4
4.5
+0.9
May 2008
5.3
4.4
+0.9
June 2008
5.3
4.4
+0.9
July 2008
5.4
4.6
+0.8
August 2008
5.4
4.7
+0.7
September 2008
5.4
4.7
+0.7
October 2008
5.6
4.9
+0.7
November 2008
6.1
5.4
+0.7
December 2008
6.6
5.9
+0.7
January 2009
7.6
7.0
+0.6
February 2009
8.0
7.8
+0.2
March 2009
8.2
8.5
-0.3

Note: Table compiled by Smart Politics with data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has nearly doubled during the past 12 months, increasing 93.2 percent since March 2008 (4.4 percent) – the third highest such increase on record, behind August 1979 to August 1980 (104.5 percent) and September 1979 to September 1980 (93.3 percent). Wisconsin has now caught up with the national unemployment rate (8.5 percent), for the first time since August 2007.

As unemployment has skyrocketed in recent months, the evaluation by Badger State residents of its officeholders has become much more critical. According to SurveyUSA polling, Wisconsin’s approval rating of Barack Obama has fallen 24.3 percent from January through March, US Senator Herb Kohl’s rating has fallen 22 percent, and US Senator Russ Feingold’s rating has dropped 16 percent during this span. Governor Jim Doyle’s approval rating in March also dropped to a record low 32 percent.

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