As Minnesota's unemployment figure drops to 3.7 percent - 1.3 below what they used to call "full employment" - the Strib's editorial board dings Pawlenty and his tax cuts because...because unemployment apparently isn't negative:
But the May employment numbers are not quite as good as they appear, and voters should read them carefully. As the Department of Employment and Economic Development pointed out, actual job creation in May was modest. The unemployment rate went down chiefly because some 9,000 Minnesotans simply stopped looking for work and weren't counted as jobless. Consider the bigger picture: The share of working-age Minnesotans with jobs is still lower than it was five years ago, when the last recession began, 70.4 percent vs. 73 percent.No context, naturally, is given for these numbers. Why is the percentage lower? Are those extra 2.6 percent of the work force retired? On welfare? On chemotherapy at Mayo? Discouraged workers?
Just saying "not everyone has a job" without knowing why is fairly meaningless, except as a way to propagandize against a hated (by the Strib) governor and his policies.
While it's true that Minnesota has surpassed the nation in the pace of job creation during the last 12 months, it has underperformed the nation in job creation over the full period since the 2001 recession ended.Perhaps - this is a theory (Kiiiiiiiiing?) because we didn't lose as many jobs as the rest of the nation during the recession? I mean, our unemployment was relatively mild (generally - personally, it was about 70% in '03)? It's a fairly key point, if true...
That's a sharp departure from the 1990s. Similarly, while Minnesota climbed up the state-by-state income rankings steadily during the 1990s, it has been stuck or falling in the income ranks since about 1999.Er, because our income was already very high in the income ranks (IIRC) in the '90s, perhaps?
No one should give a governor too much blame or credit for these broad trends. The Minnesota economy is dynamic, complicated and mostly beyond the control of any one politician. But Pawlenty came to office promising that he would improve Minnesota's economic performance, and he has held the state to an austere budget regimen to achieve that goal.3.7% unemployment is nothing to boast about?
The new Minnesota -- with a lower tax ranking and a leaner government -- may yet surpass the Minnesota of the 1990s, but so far its performance is nothing to boast about.
And that number doesn't give anywhere near the whole picture; while some sectors in Minnesota's job market might be lagging (auto manufacturing, I'm suspecting, will be a key one soon), others - health care, information technology - remain superheated and unable to find enough people.
The Strib - all the truth that's convenient for the DFL.Posted by Mitch at June 15, 2006 06:53 AM | TrackBack