Why this is important
Unemployment rates1 can help determine the effect of the economy on local areas. By studying the labor market and unemployment rate, conclusions can be made about the availability of jobs, labor, and the general standard of living.
About this measure
Unemployment benefits (financial support payments to clients) are typically available for up to 26 weeks, but federal legislation in recent years has allowed up to 86 weeks of benefits because of the hardships experienced by the serious economic downturn, which started in late 2008 and ended by 2010. In early 2012, the federal government allowed some Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits to continue but tied them to a state’s unemployment rate. The EUC has been extended several times since it was created in 2008. The last extension has ended in December 2013. As of May 6, 2014, the U.S. Senate has passed a bill to reinstate the EUC, but the U.S. House of Representatives has not yet approved the Senate's bill. For more information about unemployment benefits, see http://www.uimn.org/uimn.
What the data show
The unemployment rate in Dakota County has frequently remained below the state and national averages in the last six years. Monthly unemployment rates in Dakota County and Minnesota peaked in early 2009 at 8.0% and 8.9%, respectively. Between 2009 and 2012, the unemployment rate in Dakota County and Minnesota decreased by 3.2% and 3.5% to the levels of 4.8% and 5.4%, respectively; and continued to decrease into 2013. In the early 2014, the unemployment rates in Dakota County and MN were 4.7% and 5.4%, respectively. The nation has been experiencing similar trends; however, the national unemployment rate peaked in 2010 at 10.6% and decreased by 2.1% to 8.5% in 2012 and to 6.8% in early 2014.
The unemployment rate, expressed as a percentage, is the proportion of the labor force that is unemployed. The U.S. labor force is the sum of all people over 16 who are either working or unemployed under the standard definition – in other words, the labor force is anyone (16 years and over) who could work, whether s/he actually is working or not. So a 14-year-old who is hired by neighbors to mow lawns and shovel snow is not in the labor force, while a retired person who supplements income with a few hours a week working in a retail store is in the labor force. Unemployment figures do not include those individuals who have exhausted unemployment benefits, are working part-time, or are no longer seeking a job.
1 Unemployment rates are estimated based on responses to the Current Population Survey, a national household survey, which is conducted monthly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and administered by the U.S. Census Bureau.