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Not-so-super Tuesday for state labor markets

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January 31, 2008 | EPI Issue Brief #242

Not-so-super Tuesday for state labor markets

Voters have cause for concern in “Super Tuesday” states

by Liana Fox and Michael Ettlinger

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“Super Tuesday” on February 5th will mark an important convergence of two important phenomena. It will, of course, be the biggest step yet in selecting the next President, but it will also be the first coast-to-coast election since the nation’s economic troubles became front page news.

One sign of economic trouble is a rising unemployment rate. When the labor market weakens it hurts not just those who are out of work, but also suppresses pay levels for working people from the lowest-paid through middle-income families. Pay raises are fewer and farther between when unemployment is high.

Of the 24 “Super Tuesday” states, 20 have seen their unemployment rates rise over the last six months—with Arizona, Montana, and Tennessee seeing the biggest increases. Over this period, Massachusetts has fared best, with its unemployment rate falling from 4.9% to 4.5%. But, in the face of a troubled national economy, it is unlikely that any state will be able to buck the trend for long. This will, no doubt, be on the minds of voters as they cast their votes next Tuesday. For more economic statistics on the “Super Tuesday” states, see the Tables and Figure.

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