Minnesota recovers all private sector jobs lost in pandemic – after 34 other states already have

Minnesota’s media is in celebratory mood:

Star Tribune: Minnesota has finally recovered all private sector jobs lost in pandemic

KTTC: DEED: Minnesota private job sector recovers from pandemic job loss, adds 2000

Twin Cities Business: Private Sector Jobs Now Exceed Pre-Pandemic Numbers

KROC: MN Finally Recoups Private Sector Jobs Lost to COVID Shutdown

Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal: Minnesota employers add 10,000 jobs in February; private sector wipes out pandemic losses

Southern Minnesota News: Private job sector recovers from COVID-19 pandemic

KAALTV: DEED: Minnesota private sector fully recovers from pandemic job loss

Voice of Alexandria: Minnesota job market bouncing back

Fox 9: MN private sector job numbers recover from pandemic losses, DEED says

CBS News: DEED: Minnesota has “completely recovered” private sector jobs lost during initial stages of pandemic

Lakes Area Radio: Minnesota Posts Another Month of Strong Job Growth; Private Sector Fully Recovers From Pandemic Job Loss

Indeed, the 9,400 jobs added by our state’s private sector employers in February 2023 took the total, for the first time, back above the total of February 2020.

But before we pop the champagne corks, we ought to ask: “Why did Minnesota take so long to regain its pre-COVID-19 peak of private sector employment?”

Figure 1 uses Bureau of Labor Statistics data to rank each state and the District of Columbia by how many months after February 2020 it took them to regain the number of private sector jobs they had in that month.

Figure 1: Months after February 2020 that private sector jobs regained that peak

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

We see that fourteen states and the District of Columbia have still to regain the number of private sector jobs that they had in February 2020. Of the 36 states that have regained the number of private sector jobs they had in February 2020, the median number of months it took was 24 — two years — compared to 36 months — three years — for Minnesota. Thirty-four states regained the number of private sector jobs they had in February 2020 before Minnesota did.

The state’s media, running defense for the administration, argues that, as the Star Tribune puts it:

The U.S. reached that benchmark last summer. But with a tighter labor market than the nation as a whole, Minnesota has seen a slower recovery coming out of the pandemic. 

But this doesn’t make sense. A “tight” labor market is one where there are few workers relative to the number of jobs available. It might show up a high employment ratio, high labor force participation rate, or low rate of unemployment. But while this might explain why it is difficult for a state to add new jobs — pretty much everyone is already employed — it does not explain why it should be so much more difficult to recreate jobs that were lost, which is what Minnesota’s media is crowing about.

With some noble exceptions, our state is not well served by its media, which all to often functions simply as a credulous mouthpiece for the administration. Lets keep the champagne on ice.