The Downturnaround Is Long Nebraska

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Photo: The Truth About (Flickr)

The unemployment news is grim — seven states hit double digits in unemployment last month, led by Michigan at 12 percent. But as you know, the Downturnaround likes to take a glass-half-full approach to such harrowing figures. For instance, if you think about it, Michigan is still 88 percent employed.

In examining the state-by-state figures, we were heartened to see that jobs were holding up pretty well in some places. In Nebraska, the unemployment rate actually ticked downward. True, this may be a statistical aberration, but maybe it's not! It turns out that the middle part of the country, which never experienced much of a boom, is also not experiencing much of a bust — at least not, you know, yet.

Anyway, here are the five states with the lowest unemployment rates:

Wyoming: 3.9 percent

Nebraska: 4.2 percent

North Dakota: 4.3 percent

South Dakota: 4.6 percent

Iowa: 4.9 percent

The first thing we notice about these states — besides the fact that we've never set foot in any of them — is that they have very low per-capita ratios of credit-default-swap traders, publicists, and venues offering bottle service. The geographer Joel Kotkin calls this middle swath of the country "the zone of sanity," which the Downturnaround likes the sound of. That said, we wouldn't want to move to any of these places — hardly anyone does, which is why they have such a hard time attracting new residents (except maybe Wyoming, which has the cowboy thing). They're all the way out there. Still, we can learn something from our friends in the heartland: Out there, the jobs revolve around essential human activities, like, you know, growing food. And although we hope very much that we are not returning to a time when we all have to do that for ourselves again, the Downturnaround believes that economic growth will be restored in this country by refocusing on the basics: what people want and how to provide it to them with quality and value. If a bunch of Midwesterners can create a zone of sanity out there in the middle of nowhere, we should be able to do it here, too.