What are the forces moving the Minnesota economy? Adam Belz tries to identify the trends and show the connections between Minnesota and the larger U.S. and global economies. You can connect with him on Twitter: @adambelz

Opening Belz, Dec. 26

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: December 26, 2014 - 11:25 AM

Essar Steel needs legislative help to avoid paying back $67m – Duluth News Tribune
Used farm equipment prices, drop, bounce back a little – West Central Tribune
The surprising large number of livestock deaths by fire – StarTribune
Sprawling Medicare struggles to fight fraud – WSJ
Tyler Cowen’s best nonfiction books of 2014 – Marginal Revolution
Railroads boost capacity to head off another backlog – MPR
The 10 essential Asian films of 2014 – WSJ
A meditation on Johnny Depp and Kate Moss – Jenny Diski
A map of where people run/bike in Minneapolis/everywhere – Mapbox

Map: People are still moving to the Sun Belt in droves

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics Updated: December 24, 2014 - 3:08 PM

All the data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau. Minnesota's numbers aren't too shabby, but the South is rising fast, and the industrial Midwest (Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin) is struggling.

5 charts that show why Minnesota is outpacing Wisconsin in population growth

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics Updated: December 24, 2014 - 12:09 PM

Minnesota has been outpacing Wisconsin in population growth for a few years.

Here's why. All data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.

1. More babies are being born in Minnesota than Wisconsin, by a small margin.

2. More people are (not to put too fine a point on it) dying in Wisconsin.

3. And while both states are losing population to other states within the U.S...

4. ...Minnesota is attracting a lot more international migration.

5. So when you add up the higher number of births, lower number of deaths, lower losses to domestic migration and higher gains from international migration, Minnesota is adding twice as much population as Wisconsin.

Opening Belz, Dec. 24

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: December 24, 2014 - 10:27 AM

GDP growth way better than expected in the third quarter – Bloomberg
Florida passes New York to become 3rd most populous state – WSJ
The tech worker shortage doesn’t really exist – Businessweek
Lutsen ski resort lays out ambitious plan to grow – Duluth News Tribune
Work on the oil rig doesn’t take Christmas off – Houston Chronicle
Sales stalled at Minnesota’s municipal liquor stores in 2014 – StarTribune
Why is there not more terrorism? – Marginal Revolution
Developer Richard Hurd sets sights on Ingersoll Ave – Des Moines Register
Black population of Charleston, SC, is dropping fast – Charleston Chronicle
Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith got on a list of best CEOs – CNN

Last "saltie" of 2014 sails out of Duluth-Superior

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics Updated: December 22, 2014 - 1:03 PM

After dropping off building supplies for a taconite plant near Nashwauk, the last oceangoing ship of the year departed Duluth on Saturday.

The Palmerton, Duluth’s last “saltie” of 2014, sailed under the aerial lift bridge and out into Lake Superior at 12:26 a.m. Saturday, according to the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. The 436-foot Antigua-flagged ship is now on a 2,342 mile journey to the Atlantic Ocean and must get through locks at Lake Erie and Lake Ontario before they close on Dec. 31.

Adele Yorde, spokeswoman for the port authority, said the Palmerton was dropping off supplies for the Essar Steel plant, which is under construction east of Grand Grapids. The ship was empty when it left the port.

“It left light when it left here,” she said. “They talked about making one last stop in Eerie, Pennsylvania.”

The last saltie of the year departing Duluth is a sure sign of the deep freeze of winter, but shipping season isn’t quite over for the Twin Ports. Lakers, ships that stay within the Great Lakes, will continue to sail out of the Port of Duluth-Superior until Jan. 15 as they rush to stock steel mills to the south with enough iron ore to get through the winter.

Despite the most brutal winter in decades to start the 2014 season, year-to-date shipments through the Port of Duluth-Superior have nearly caught up to where they were at this time last year, thanks to plenty of rain, which allows ships to carry more cargo without scraping against the bottom in shallow spots.

“Higher water levels across the system this year helped tremendously in making up time and tonnage,” said Vanta Coda, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority’s executive director, in a statement. “Thousand-footers, for example, were able to load to another foot deeper draft allowing some 3,000 additional tons of iron ore or coal on every downbound delivery.”                

Shipments of iron ore to domestic and Canadian steel mills are up nearly 6 percent compared to a year ago. Increases in commodities like limestone and salt, plus general cargo shipments, helped offset declines in coal and grain shipping this season.

Though ice has already formed on Lake Superior and elsewhere in the system, shipping has not been significantly impacted so far this winter.

(The Palmerton leaves Duluth-Superior early Saturday. Photo courtesy the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.)


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