Jobless rate quite low in northeastern Minnesota

The Duluth News Tribune reported Tuesday that unemployment in Duluth has dipped below 6 percent. Moreover, unemployment in the entire region has also dropped:

The jobless rate reached 6.2 percent for Northeastern Minnesota, down from 6.7 percent in August. And the greater Twin Ports area, which includes all of St. Louis, Carlton and Douglas counties, dipped to 6.1 percent, also down from 6.7 percent in August.

This seems to bear out the larger narrative that Duluth, in particular, is finding new ways to thrive after decades of booms and busts tied to northern Minnesota’s natural resource-based economy. These rates are far below the national unemployment average.

I’d also argue that if you were to plug a 6 percent unemployment rate into the election prediction formula touted by Nate Silver over at the NY Times’ “FiveThirtyEight” blog, you’d find a local environment supportive of President Obama and incumbents down the line. I think that will certainly be the case in Duluth.

Question is, will independent voters who decide that Obama is alright go down the ballot and vote out their Congressman, Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack, or stick with him, too? And will Range voters, who attribute the good economy to the mines, behave predictably? I doubt that. Thing is, there are so many fewer voters on the Range than 20 years ago, any slight shift in voting patterns would probably go unnoticed in the big picture. A major shift, however, would be noticeable.

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