Although the unemployment numbers released during the past week by Iowa Workforce Development find the Hawkeye State with its highest seasonally adjusted jobless rate since December 1987, Iowans are not losing their jobs at the rate endured by other Upper Midwestern states.

At 5.2 percent, Iowa’s current unemployment rate is lower than that of Wisconsin (8.5 percent) and Minnesota (8.2 percent), though higher than that of South Dakota (4.9 percent) and North Dakota (4.2 percent).

However, Iowa is not enduring the rate of increase that has so greatly impacted its neighbors, according to a Smart Politics analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

For example, unemployment has increased 33.3 percent over the past 12 months in Iowa, from 3.9 percent in March 2008 to 5.2 percent in March 2009. Although this represents the largest such increase going back to the beginning of Bureau of Labor Statistics records in 1976 (tied with the increase experienced from September 1979 to September 1980 when the rate jumped from 4.5 to 6.0 percent), it pales to the yearly jobless rate increases experienced around the Upper Midwest during the past year.

· Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has jumped 93.2 percent during the past 12 months, from 4.4 to 8.5 percent – 3rd highest on record.

· South Dakota has endured a 75.0 percent rise in jobless claims during this period, from 2.8 to 4.9 percent – the largest on record.

· Minnesota’s jobless rate has increased 60.8 percent since March 2008 – also the largest on record for a 12-month period.

· North Dakota’s rise in unemployment from 12 months ago has risen 40.0 percent – the 10th highest on record.

Moreover, Iowa’s unemployment rate is 3.3-points lower than the national average of 8.5 percent, which is tied for the largest such differential in its favor since 1978.

Iowa has only had a higher unemployment rate than the nation in just 15 of the past 399 months, dating back to 1976. Meanwhile, Minnesota has had a higher rate than the nation in just 6 of the past 399 months – all occurring during the past two years.

North and South Dakota have not endured a single month with a higher jobless rate than the national average during the past 33 years of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Wisconsin, meanwhile, has had a higher unemployment rate than the country overall in 60 of these 399 months.

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