While several Upper Midwestern states, such as Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, saw their unemployment rates decline after reaching apparent peak levels a few months ago, a few states, like Wisconsin and Iowa, continued down the path of rising unemployment at historic paces.
On Thursday, the Badger State got some rare good news on the economic front when the Department of Workforce Development announced the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the month of August had declined from 9.0 percent to 8.8 percent.
This marks the first time unemployment has fallen in Wisconsin since April 2008 – a string of 15 consecutive months of rising or flat rates. During that one and a quarter year span, jobless claims in the Badger State increased 105 percent through July, from 4.4 to 9.0 percent.
While Wisconsin has the highest unemployment rate in the Upper Midwest, it is noticeably lower than several states in the greater Midwestern region, such as Illinois (10.0 percent in August), Michigan (15.2 percent in August), and Ohio (11.2 percent in July – new numbers will be released in the Buckeye State on Friday).
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is now 0.8 points higher than Minnesota, which reflects the overall employment pattern between the two neighboring states across the past four decades.
During the past 405 months dating back to January 1976, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has been higher than Minnesota’s 71 percent of the time (287 months), while Minnesota’s has been higher just 24 percent of the time (99 months). The two states have had the same unemployment rate 5 percent of the time (19 months).
Wisconsin’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has averaged 5.4 percent since 1976 while Minnesota’s has averaged 4.9 percent.
Iowa’s unemployment numbers for the month of August will be released later this week.
Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.