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, Jan. 22

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: January 22, 2015 - 11:43 AM

Michigan’s jobless rate drops to 6.3% at end of 2014 – Detroit Free Press
Creepy old Duluth sanitarium could be turned into a school – Duluth News Tribune
Interesting gender wage gap law debated in North Dakota – Fargo Forum
UnitedHealth keeps growing thanks in part to Optum – StarTribune
3 million gallons of saltwater brine from oil drilling spills in ND – Associated Press
Transcript of the State of the Union address – Medium
SD’s John Thune takes lead role in net-neutrality proposal – Argus Leader
Greece, austerity and its creditors are back in the news – WSJ
"This will absolutely be the stoniest X Games yet" – Denver Post

Minnesota employers cut 5,200 jobs in December

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics Updated: January 22, 2015 - 11:35 AM

New job numbers for December throw cold water on what had been a run of gains in Minnesota, as employers cut 5,200 jobs in the month and November’s gains were revised downward by 4,000.

“We’ll file this one under the category of all good things must come to an end,” said Steve Hine, the labor market economist for the state.

Still, the state unemployment rate fell a tenth of a point to 3.6 percent, according to figures released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The U.S. unemployment rate in December was 5.6 percent.

Minnesota job growth for the calendar year was the weakest since 2010, and in 2014, Minnesota lagged behind the nation. U.S. job growth for 2014 was 2.2 percent, nearly double the 1.2 percent rate of growth in Minnesota.

Asked how the unemployment rate can fall when the number of jobs in the state declined, Hine noted the unemployment rate and the total number of jobs are from different surveys, each with its own margin of error.

“They are counts of different things done by different surveys with different methodologies,” Hine said.

Average wages for all private sector workers fell 3 cents in December from $25.77 per hour to $25.74 per hour, and have fallen 20 cents since December 2013.

Most industries shed jobs in December, especially government, manufacturing, real estate and health care. Trade, transportation and utilities led all industries by adding 4,100 new jobs.

“We’ve had a string of months with very strong job growth both here and nationally,” Hine said. “It’s not at all unusual for a series of months that are as strong as that to be followed by a one-month correction.”

Stepping back to look at the bigger picture, Minnesota added 33,100 jobs in 2014, according to the numbers released Thursday. That compares to 59,300 in 2013, 43,500 in 2012 and 53,700 in 2011.

Construction, which showed some encouraging signs in 2014, now appears to be flat for job growth on the year.

Across the state, Mankato closed a strong year of job gains, adding more than 2,000 jobs for 3.7 percent growth.

The Twin Cities and St. Cloud both grew jobs at 1.8 percent. Rochester grew at 0.7 percent, and Duluth-Superior lost jobs at a rate of 0.7 percent.

Check back for updates to this story.

Opening Belz, Jan. 20

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: January 20, 2015 - 7:08 AM

50k gallons of Bakken oil spills near eastern Montana town – Associated Press
ND mulls enhanced driver’s license for Canadian border crossings – Grand Forks Herald
Different ND lawmaker wants to void natural gas flaring rules – Fargo Forum
Despite drop in oil prices, still plenty of jobs in the Bakken – Billings Gazette
Ford Mustang goes global after 50 years – Detroit Free Press
Small Minnesota butchers become medium rare – MPR
Illinois budget deficit “twice as bad as you think” – Crain’s Chicago
Stores close in St. Cloud, retailers not alarmed – St. Cloud Times
The economy from 1980 to 2000 was actually very good – Noah Smith
TV companies, having saturated the U.S., look overseas for audiences – WSJ
On to plan B as oil work stalls in Texas – NY Times

Opening Belz, Jan. 15

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: January 15, 2015 - 11:05 AM

Target to retreat from Canada after $5-6bn investment – StarTribune
Obama talks broadband in Cedar Falls – Des Moines Register
Michigan budget picture worsens, $454m shortfall projected – Detroit Free Press
Labor movement rumbles in Seattle at Microsoft – Seattle Times
Oil rig numbers drop 13% in past month in North Dakota – StarTribune
Health insurer Aetna sets $16 floor on wages – WSJ
The part I heard of this Mpls Fed chief interview was interesting – MPR
Bitcoin prices drop 32 percent in two days – Bloomberg
Why Blockchain is an important innovation even without Bitcoin – Brookings
Travelers Insurance to sell tower in St. Paul – StarTribune
The GOP has yet to win over Spanish-language Univision – Buzzfeed
In Pennsylvania, a company brings manufacturing back to the USA – WSJ

3 maps and 3 lists on wage growth in the U.S.

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics Updated: February 3, 2015 - 10:42 AM

I'm working on a story about why wages aren't growing more for workers.

Here are three maps and three lists on the topic. 

As you can see, annualized wage growth has been sluggish in the industrial Midwest for the past 14 years.

Minnesota wages have grown a little faster than average since 2001, and barely better than average since the recession. Once again, North Dakota is an outlier. The darker the green, the better the wage growth.

Here is map of wages by state. The darker the state, the higher the wages.

Here are a few lists that show the same data in a different way. Here are the 25 states where wages have grown the fastest since 2001:

And here are the 25 states where wages have grown the fastest since 2009:

And here are the 25 states with the highest weekly wages in 2014:


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