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

Posts about Business trends

As labor forces shrink in Midwest, can immigrant population growth keep up?

Posted by: Adam Belz Updated: July 22, 2014 - 12:24 PM

The debate over immigration policy is fast taking on more economic significance as the aging Minnesota and Midwestern labor force is shrinking.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area added 108,000 immigrants to its population in the first decade of the millennium, more than any metro area in the Midwest other than Chicago and at a far faster rate than Chicago. It appears immigration has allowed the Twin Cities labor force to keep growing even as the overall workforce in Minnesota has started to decline.

The immigrant population statistics are laid out in a report published a month ago by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Whatever your politics, the figures illustrate that job markets in the Midwest are quietly beckoning a lot of people from other countries, as more baby boomers retire, leaving companies to search for employees in a smaller pool of workers.

Mark Brunswick wrote about this report already for the Strib, but at a time when the state labor economist says the workforce is hitting a 15-year period of little or no growth, it’s worth looking at the data a little more, and discussing why businesses are pushing for immigration reform.

The Minnesota labor force has shrunk each of the past four months, after peaking just over 3 million strong in the spring.

As baby boomers retire, “businesses that are going to want to expand are going to have to compete hand over fist, and tooth and nail for qualified workers,” said Steve Hine, economist at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, in June.

Enter immigration, and the rapid growth of it in the Midwest. 

More than a third of the population gain between 2000 and 2010 in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Ann Arbor and Topeka was immigrant population growth.

In Duluth, immigrants accounted for ALL of the population growth, and offset a decline in the native-born population. The same is true of the Quad Cities between Illinois and Iowa, and South Bend and Terre Haute, Ind.

In Chicago, Akron, Ohio, and Sheboygan, Wis., immigrants accounted for more than half of all population growth between 2000 and 2010.

The numbers include naturalized citizens, legal permanent residents, temporary visitors who are here to work or study, and undocumented immigrants.

The shrinking labor force is something businesses are watching closely. It’s a key reason that groups like the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce are touting the economic contributions of immigrants, and pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.

“Americans need to continue to act with economic and cultural self-confidence in the presence of globalization, and continue to welcome immigrants,” the chamber report said.

Here's a spreadsheet I created using the Chicago Council's data, which was compiled from U.S. Census reports. It's the top 40 Midwestern cities by immigrant population growth in absolute terms.

As you can see, some cities, like Detroit and Cleveland, had big growth in their foreign-born populations, but not enough to offset a dramatic decline in population overall.

Commercial lending is climbing back in Minnesota, but slowly

Posted by: Adam Belz Updated: July 18, 2014 - 2:31 PM

All the big banks have been reporting their earnings, and they’re all reporting a rebound in commercial and industrial lending, including Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo, Citigroup, PNC Financial and others, which is leading to a rebound in lending overall.

It’s a good sign for the economy, because it shows that businesses, particularly the mid-sized ones that are job-creating engines, are getting more confident and borrowing money to do more of what they do, and presumably grow and hire more people.

Nationally, fewer commercial and industrial loans are delinquent, and lenders are easing their standards, said Toby Madden, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. More lending to businesses not only is a sign of an improving economy, but an economic stimulus.

“That reinforces itself in new plants and buildings, that means more economic activity is happening, which means that might create more demand for loans,” Madden said. “The good economic activity spurs more economic activity.”

I took a look at the Minnesota data from the FDIC (which only runs through the first quarter of 2014) and it shows that while lending to businesses is on the upswing in Minnesota, there’s still a long way to go to get back to pre-recession levels.

The collective commercial and industrial loan portfolio (the amount of loaned money at any given time, including lines of credit that are being used) for Minnesota banks ticked upward to $7.3 billion in the first quarter of 2014. That was the highest level since the end of 2009, but still 24 percent below the level in March 2009.

This lending to businesses tracked every other economic indicator in the downturn, dropping from $9.5 billion to $7.4 billion in 2009, as growth halted and businesses dug in for the recession. Lending levels continued to fall. As you can see, it’s been a slow climb back from the trough in March 2012.

Here’s the national data showing not the total amounts, but the annualized percent change by quarter. It shows that growth has returned across the country, but not growth on par with the boom years of 2006 and 2007, which is probably just fine.


Opening Belz, July 17

Posted by: Adam Belz Updated: July 17, 2014 - 11:08 AM

Kieran’s loved the All-Star Game, Smack Shack not so much – StarTribune
Mortensen taking bids for turf work at new Vikings stadium – Finance & Commerce
Frac sand barge loading station plan tabled in Winona – Winona Daily News
U.S., Europe expand sanctions against Russia – Washington Post
Big pension problems coming for the state of Minnesota – American Experiment
Without influx of immigrants, Duluth would have lost residents – News Tribune
White House poses new hurdle for Medtronic-Covidien deal – StarTribune
Flaring in NoDak: “Rotten noise, rotten smell, and terrible waste” – LA Times
Here’s how Sports Illustrated got the Lebron James exclusive – Ad Age
A typical academic business journal article costs…$400k – Poets and Quants

Minnesota employers added 8,500 jobs in June

Posted by: Adam Belz Updated: July 17, 2014 - 10:34 AM

Minnesota employers added 8,500 jobs in June, according to figures released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

It was the second straight month of solid job growth after a slower-than-usual spring.

“We do continue to see new highs in employment, the number of unemployed Minnesotans continues to fall,” said Steve Hine, a state labor market economist. “We have good reason to anticipate that this growth will continue.”

May's gains, initially reported as 10,300, were revised downward to 7,200 jobs. But in the past 12 months, the state has added 53,779 jobs, a 1.9 percent annual growth rate, which matches the U.S. growth rate for that period.

The state unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 4.5 percent in June, down 0.6 percent from one year ago, mostly because the labor force participation rate in the state fell two-tenths of a percentage point. About 136,000 Minnesotans are unemployed. The U.S. unemployment rate in June was 6.1 percent.

Government led all sectors, adding 3,900 jobs in June, with all of the expansion in local government, evenly split between municipal governments and public schools, Hine said.

“Perhaps that’s a sign that fiscal constraints that impeded local government hiring have been lifting,” he said.

State and federal government hiring fell on the month. Education and health services added 3,500 jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities (up 2,200), financial activities (up 600), information (up 500), professional and business services, and logging and mining all added jobs.

Manufacturing lost 900 jobs, while leisure and hospitality and construction were down slightly. Construction's gains in May were also revised downward, but the trend for that industry is still quite good, Hine said.

“Construction certainly is continuing to do well,” Hine said. “I’m not too concerned about the one-month pause.”

The state's metropolitan statistical areas have all added jobs over the past 12 months, some faster than others. St. Cloud is up 2.8 percent, Minneapolis-St. Paul is up 1.8 percent, Mankato is up 1.6 percent, Rochester is up 0.4 percent and Duluth-Superior is up 0.3 percent.

Funding for young life science firms in Minnesota rises in second quarter

Posted by: Adam Belz Updated: July 16, 2014 - 2:56 PM

The folks at LifeScience Alley have embarked on an admirable project, trying to quantify the amount of investment in health and medical device companies Minnesota each quarter.
Their data for the second quarter of 2014 shows that investment in diagnostics, medical device, health IT, pharmaceuticals and other healthcare firms rose 65 percent compared to a year earlier, and 46 percent compared to the first quarter. That includes venture capital, angel funding and investment in small firms by large companies. 

More than half of the 34 companies raising money are in non-medical device industries, but medical device firms accounted for the lion’s share of the dollars.

The medical device numbers were driven by major deals at Plymouth-based Holaira, which raised $42 million to pave the way for a European clinical trial of the company’s catheter-based system to treat obstructive lung disease, and Maple Grove-based Inspire Medical, which raised $40 million to commercialize its sleep apnea therapy.

However, 71 percent of the deals in the second quarter were under $1 million, according to LifeScience Alley.


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