The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released its most recent Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, the higher-quality but time-delayed job statistics that go deep into the state and county level.
The numbers, now available through the first quarter of 2014, paint a less promising picture of job growth in Minnesota last year than we've been seeing in the monthly job numbers.
According to the new data, which everyone agrees is more reliable than the monthly numbers, Minnesota ranked 41st in the nation in private sector job growth from March 2013 to March 2014, with a growth rate of 0.8 percent.
That ranks last in the Midwest. Behind Michigan, behind Iowa, behind Illinois, and, unfortunately, behind Wisconsin.
As you can see, if you look at the data going back two or three or five years, Minnesota's performance starts to look better. But growth has been slowing down.
If you look closely at this chart, you can see Minnesota's maroon line leveling off in the most recent 12-month period.
John Schmid at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on this data a week ago, pointing out that Wisconsin ranked 33rd in the nation, but ahead of Minnesota and Illinois.
In the final quarterly jobs report before November's election, Wisconsin continued to lag the nation and most of the Midwest in its rate of job creation, although it leapfrogged two neighboring states — providing new ammunition for both sides in the heated gubernatorial race.
Wisconsin gained 28,712 private-sector jobs in the 12-month period from March 2013 to March 2014, a 1.26% growth rate that ranks the state 33rd among the 50 states for the period, Thursday's report showed.
The state's job-creation pace was virtually unchanged from the previous quarter, when Wisconsin added jobs at a rate of 1.27%. Its rate during the latest period surpassed neighboring Illinois and Minnesota, however, because job creation in those two states slowed.
The same data, however, also show that Wisconsin continues to trail the rest of its Midwest peers: Michigan, Iowa, Ohio and Indiana.
The Journal-Sentinel does not report the monthly numbers without issuing gigantic caveats, and this is a good example of why. The new quarterly data doesn't square with the monthly job figures that have been coming out all year, which are drawn from the Current Employment Statistics program. According to that data, Minnesota added 39,800 private sector jobs from March 2013 to March 2014.
But if we have to choose between the two datasets, the QCEW wins out. It shows that Minnesota only added 19,000 jobs over that period, less than half the number shown in the monthly reports.