Minnesota topped Wisconsin for jobs in 2017, for the first time in recent history, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.
Both states are reporting lower-than-national-average unemployment rates.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday the national unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent, the lowest in nearly 50 years.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show Minnesota ahead by 3,096 total jobs. That's hardly a huge edge given the size of their overall workforces of about 2.9 million apiece. However, the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show Wisconsin still has almost 219,000 more residents than Minnesota. A decade ago, it had nearly 98,000 more jobs.
Wednesday's numbers come from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which economists value as the "gold standard" of job metrics. More detailed numbers that break down public versus private sector jobs won't be available for another couple weeks.
University of Michigan Labor Economist Donald Grimes said it's striking that Minnesota had added more jobs than Wisconsin every year since 2010.
"The fact that it's every year is somewhat remarkable," Grimes told Wisconsin Public Radio.
Wisconsin added 28,696 jobs last year. That translated to a growth rate of about 1 percent, which ranked 27th in the nation. Minnesota added 35,925 jobs in 2017; a growth rate of 1.3 percent, which ranked 18th.
From 2011 through 2017, Wisconsin added a total of 202,554 jobs, which ranked 34th in the nation. Minnesota added 292,976, which ranked 19th.
The overall numbers come at a time when another job metric — the unemployment rate — dropped to 2.8 percent in Wisconsin according to preliminary figures. That's a record low.
"To get an unemployment rate that low is great," Grimes said. "But that means that you're not going to be able to increase employment any more by reducing that much further."
Minnesota's preliminary unemployment rate for April was 3.2 percent.
Both states are lower than the national rate of 3.8 percent.
Other figures give more of a clue as to why Minnesota passed Wisconsin.
Minnesota's labor force participation rate — the percentage of the overall population that is part of the workforce — is 70.5 percent, which is slightly higher than Wisconsin's 68.9 percent.
In addition, job growth in Minnesota's largest city far surpassed job growth in Wisconsin's.
Hennepin County, Minnesota, home to Minneapolis-St. Paul, added 110,520 jobs from 2011 through 2017. By contrast, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin added just 17,680 over that same period.
"You need to focus on why Milwaukee is doing so much worse than Minneapolis-St. Paul and how you can be more like Minneapolis-St. Paul," Grimes said.