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
Minnesota exports of manufactured, agricultural and mining products grew to $5.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013, a 6 percent increase from the same period a year earlier.
Minnesota was one of 19 states that grew exports more than 5 percent in the quarter, and the state’s export growth bettered overall national growth in the quarter of 4 percent.
“This 6 percent growth was really driven by two markets – China and Mexico,” said Kathleen Motzenbecker, director of the Minnesota Trade Office.
Exports to China – Minnesota’s second-largest market – grew 35 percent to $743 million, driven by medical devices, plastics and recycling and ores, slag and ash.
Sales in Mexico climbed 32 percent to $439 million.
The overall uptick in fourth quarter exports – which do not include exports of services -- was a reversal of a two-year trend of flat or minimal growth.
Manufactured exports, which accounted for $5 billion in state sales during the fourth quarter, grew 7 percent from the same period a year ago, compared with 3 percent growth for manufactured exports nationally.
“I’m always pleased when I see the needle going in the upwards direction,” Motzenbecker said.
Iowa and Wisconsin exports were flat in the fourth quarter, North Dakota's fell 15 percent, South Dakota's fell 6 percent, Michigan and Indiana exports fell slightly, and Illinois exports grew 11 percent.
Minnesota's economy is improving, but the improvement has been uneven.
Minneapolis is doing better than St. Paul. The western suburbs are doing better than the eastern suburbs. Mankato is doing well, but all the rural areas around it are bleeding jobs.
Last week, the state issued new revised job numbers by county through the third quarter of 2013, and they give us new perspective on how different parts of the state are faring.
Over the last 10 years, the top five counties for job creation have been:
1. Pennington County, northwest Minnesota (we've written about these guys before)
2. Jackson County, southwest Minnesota
3. Benton County, east side of St. Cloud
4. Stevens County, western Minnesota
5. Sherburne County, straddles the orbits of St. Cloud and the northwest suburbs of MSP
The bottom five counties for job creation are:
1. Watonwan County, southern Minnesota
2. Waseca County, just east of Mankato
3. Traverse County, western Minnesota
4. Faribault County, southern Minnesota
5. Aitkin County, north of the Twin Cities
A lot of the counties where work opportunities have shrunk are rural counties with small populations.
Looking at the Twin Cities metro, which is the driver of the state economy, there's a clear east-west divide. Hennepin County and the west metro are healthier than Ramsey County and the east metro. That phenomenon was identified by state labor economists in a report on employment by city, and the Pioneer Press had a lengthy story on how Minneapolis has recovered the jobs it lost in the recession, but St. Paul has not.
It's a tale of two cities. However, there's enough cross-over between the two cities that the gap is less meaningful than it would otherwise be. As an urban planner once told me, "St. Paul is the luckiest Rust Belt city in the country, because it's next door to Minneapolis."
Laurence Reszetar -- a lawyer who lives in St. Paul -- has been named director of foreign direct investment for the Minnesota Trade Office.
The position is new. Reszetar will oversee the state's efforts to attract investment from foreign companies that creates jobs in Minnesota. He’ll manage a trade office in Shanghai and eventually trade offices in South Korea, Germany and Brazil.
Reszetar, 37, has been an attorney for Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand since 2006. He has worked for Fontheim International, a consulting and law firm in Washington, D.C., and been a research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.
Minnesota Trade Office Director Kathleen Motzenbecker, who will be Reszetar's boss, is also a Council on Foreign Relations alum.
Reszetar has a bachelor’s degree in government and international relations from Georgetown, and a law degree from the U of M.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to work for the state of Minnesota on such a strategic and important initiative,” Reszetar said in a statement. “Dedicating a new position to foreign direct investment is a good decision that will bring more jobs to the state and strengthen the economy.”
Foreign companies with operations in Minnesota are responsible for 92,000 jobs – about 4 percent of the total private sector workforce in the state, according to the Organization for International Investment. About 30 percent of those jobs are in manufacturing.
Foreign companies with major operations in Minnesota include the German firms Geringhoff, Allianz and Aldi. India’s Tata Consultancy Services, Brazil’s Gerdau,
the UK’s GlaxoSmithKline and Canadian bus-maker New Flyer also have big operations here.
The foreign trade offices Reszetar will oversee are to direct 40 percent of their efforts toward promoting Minnesota exports and 60 percent toward attracting foreign direct investment.
Reszetar’s position was created as a result of Gov. Mark Dayton’s Global Competitiveness Initiative, which was approved by the Minnesota Legislature last year to increase state exports and attract more foreign direct investment – money spent by foreign companies on operations in Minnesota.
The FY 2013 budget of the Minnesota Trade Office was $1.9 million, and from what I can tell it has about 15 employees, including one each in Dusseldorf and Shanghai. The Trade Office falls within the hierarchy of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
And, oh yeah, Reszetar is on Twitter: @ComoParker
Mike Duffy, a 62-year-old former high-powered salesman who couldn't find well-paid work and then took a position in October at Starbucks, has found a new job.
"Yesterday I accepted a job with the State of Minnesota. I gave Starbucks my 2 weeks notice," he said. "I am really excited. It looks like a great fit for my skills at this point in my life."
He'll be a customer service representative assisting state employees and retirees who have questions or issues with their benefits. The job starts March 19.
Duffy was the subject of a lengthy story we published a month ago on the struggles of older workers in the job market. He had earned a six-figure salary for two decades, but when he lost his job in 2007 he had a difficult time finding anything similar.
By 2013, he gave up and took a job serving coffee at Starbucks. He enjoyed the job, but earned less in a day than he used to earn in half-an-hour at the peak of his sales career.
Duffy said he started getting job inquiries the morning the story ran in the newspaper, and was flooded with calls and emails.
(photo by David Joles, Mike Duffy and his son Ryan, who has spina bifida)
Cybersecurity mistakes kept secret by banks, retailers – StarTribune
Income inequality has grown rapidly in Milwaukee, report says – Journal Sentinel
Advocates for MN minimum wage increase point to gender pay gap – MinnPost
At 3M, contract workers have value but little job security – Pioneer Press
Contractors are flocking to North Dakota – Fargo Forum
$1 billion withdrawn in run on Thai bank – WSJ
Surowiecki takes a glass-half-empy look at social mobility – New Yorker
The UAW wants a do-over vote at Volkswagen in Chattanooga – Washington Post
Probably the best lede written so far in 2014, by Caitlin Flanagan – Atlantic