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, July 10

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: July 10, 2014 - 10:45 AM

Danish firm to pay Mpls $600k for not meeting job-creation goals – StarTribune
Southeast Wisconsin foreclosures ease to pre-crisis level – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
U.S. companies step up business done in Chinese yuan – WSJ
St. Paul council approves streetcar study – Pioneer Press
Logjam! Crew near Duluth breaks up tree blockage on St. Louis River – News Tribune
Oil pipeline across Iowa proposed – Des Moines Register
Harsh winter blamed for lower iron ore shipments on Great Lakes – MPR
Chinese tycoon aims to build Chicago’s third-largest tower – Chicago Tribune
Bike-sharing programs spread across U.S., but many stumble – WSJ
Violence in Honduras is driving children to U.S. border – NY Times

Opening Belz, July 8

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: July 8, 2014 - 9:02 AM

Why Wall Street worries about a run on bonds – Bloomberg
Global assets are booming and it might be a bubble, or not – NY Times
Oil train hysteria coupled with rejection of pipelines hits Iowa – Des Moines Register
General Mills unveils 150 new products, protein, gluten-free emphasized – StarTribune
State officials promise tougher approach to farmers and nitrates – MPR
Walmart, in a bit of a slump, looks to grow with smaller stores – WSJ
The USGS has posted fascinating historical maps from across the country – USGS
Can Atari make a comeback with mobile? – Adweek
San Francisco cooks its recycling numbers, and other stuff about waste – Bloomberg
Louisville & Little Rock are doing better than St. Louis & Memphis – St. Louis Fed
Fawning but interesting profile of billionaire mathematician James Simons – NY Times

Opening Belz, June 7

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: July 7, 2014 - 10:20 AM

Levels in Lake Superior, Michigan, Huron are on the rebound – StarTribune
Detroit’s bellwether neighborhood, the North End – NY Times
Political battle over export bank heats up – WSJ
Empty big boxes are finding new purposes in Minnesota – StarTribune
St. Paul’s Payne-Phalen neighborhood works to fix image problem – Pioneer Press
An interesting chart that does in fact compare apples and oranges – Economist
ADM to buy ingredient company Wild Flavors for $3 billion – Chicago Tribune
In Mexican jungle, it’s tribes vs. biologists – Washington Post
Taylor: Why I bought the Star Tribune, what I see for its future – StarTribune

Are discouraged workers driving down U.S. unemployment? No

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics Updated: July 3, 2014 - 12:19 PM

As the economy has recovered and the unemployment rate fallen, there have been no shortage of objections to the statistics.

A gentleman emailed me this week, after we ran a story on the Twin Cities having the lowest unemployment rate of any large metropolitan area in the nation, saying that U.S. unemployment has fallen only because more people are collecting disability payments. Another said I should have taken into account which jobs are created by government and which by "actual market demand." (That's a discussion for another day.)

But the most common objection to the good news of declining unemployment has been that the reason it's falling is because more people are giving up the search for a job and dropping out of the work force.

This has (sort of) been true in some months. The number of “discouraged workers,” as the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts it, rose dramatically during the recession. Those workers are not counted as unemployed, because they are not technically looking for a job, so, the argument goes, the unemployment rate doesn't accurately reflect the job market.

But the number of discouraged workers in America can no longer be used as an explanation for why unemployment is falling. In June, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Labor, the number of discouraged workers fell to 676,000, its lowest level since December 2008.

As you can see the total number of discouraged workers has been falling steadily since the recession: 

There are other reasons the unemployment rate is falling, particularly in Minnesota. More people are retiring, so the labor force has begun to shrink. But discouragement is no longer a serious reason for the falling unemployment rate.

Minneapolis-St. Paul unemployment rate is lowest in nation for large metro areas

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics Updated: July 1, 2014 - 10:41 AM

Minneapolis-St. Paul has the lowest unemployment rate of any large metropolitan area in the United States, according to the data released today.

The Twin Cities unemployment rate of 4.0 percent came in just a bit lower than Austin, Texas, at 4.1 percent, and Columbus, Ohio, at 4.4 percent. The Minneapolis, St. Paul and Bloomington metro area has twice the population of each of the other two metro areas.

Rounding out the top five are Oklahoma City, with an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, and Boston, with an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent.

Here are the top 20 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figures are by place of residence, and are up-to-date as of May.



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