ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — As Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton makes the case for a second term, a major theme he's pressed is that the state economy has outperformed most of the Upper Midwest on his watch.
How voters view the economy will go a long way in determining how Dayton, a Democrat, fares in November. Republicans concede things have turned around but they say the recovery has been far from robust. There's no shortage of ways to measure the economy, and each side will spend the next 10 weeks debating whether the glass is half-full or half-empty.
The market value of taxable property in the state hit an all-time high this year at $592 billion, surpassing the 2009 mark that tumbled during the recession. Minnesota's per-capita income is nearing $48,000, well above the national average of $44,500. Tens of thousands more jobs exist now than on Dayton's first day, and unemployment has fallen from 6.8 percent in 2011 to 4.5 percent today.
"We've got Minnesota unquestionably headed in the right direction," Dayton told The Associated Press in an interview this week. "There's more that needs to be done. There are still people out of work. There are still people who want better opportunities."
Republicans argue that the good-looking numbers are misleading and that many people are "underemployed." They point to research from the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development pegging 53 percent of Minnesota workers as in positions beneath their qualification level.