The United States' economy has been in a deep and prolonged recession since 2008 with unemployment greater than 9% over the entire time period. Further the structure of the U.S. economy has been shifting over time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between January of 2001 and January of 2011 employment in manufacturing declined by about one-third (from 17.1 million to 11.6 million). In contrast, the same source reports service sector jobs actually expanded modestly (4%) over this period, growing from 107.9 million to 112.5 million jobs. Minnesota and Wisconsin have lost manufacturing jobs somewhat more slowly (each is down about 25% over the January 2001 – January 2011 period) and gained service sector jobs at a rate (4%) comparable to the national average.
The economies of counties in the St. Croix River valley have also suffered during the "Great Recession." Unemployment has risen sharply in the region, though it tends to be lower than the national average. Counties (Chisago and Polk) further from the Twin Cities have experienced a sharper economic downturn than those closer to the metro area. More than 4 out of 5 jobs in the St. Croix River valley counties are supplied by the private sector.