Michigan’s “Long, Hallowed History of Unemployment”?

The Onion pokes fun at Michigan’s labor market woes:

“This is a sad day for the people of Michigan,” Granholm said to a crowd of part-time reporters and former assembly-line workers Tuesday. “Our state has a long, hallowed history of unemployment, and with these closings, we have lost a vital part of our economic and social fabric.”

While I bet many residents of Michigan will find this in poor taste, it seems John J. Miller of the National Review thinks this is funny.

Had Mr. Miller done a little fact checking, he might have realized that the only way The Onion’s little joke makes any sense for a long history to be defined as the last six years. Our graph shows Michigan’s and the nation’s unemployment rate from January 1997 to December 2006. During Clinton’s second term, the state’s unemployment rate was below the already low national unemployment rate. The state’s unemployment rate, however, rose even more than the nation’s during the 2001 to 2003 period. While the nation’s unemployment rate has declined – Michigan’s unemployment rate has not.

But you know – it does seem like a very long time since we’ve had a real leader in the White House. Somehow, I don’t think this was Mr. Miller’s point. But then what was his point?