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. 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:

Opening Belz, Jan. 13

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: January 13, 2015 - 10:05 AM

MN restaurant owners want minimum wage break on tipped workers – StarTribune
China pursues projects that make the Great Wall feel small – NY Times
Wisconsin businesses work to reduce U.S. trade deficit – Journal Sentinel
In oil nations’ war of attrition, Canada not backing down – WSJ
Frattallone’s to open new Ace Hardware on St. Paul’s west side – Pioneer Press
New Illinois governor takes oath, orders spending freeze – Chicago Sun-Times
Cash-strapped ND cities ready to lobby Bismarck – Bismarck Tribune
The case for breaking up Citigroup – WSJ
Ecolab to get all its power from solar in Minnesota – StarTribune
Fewer people are passing the GED since overhaul – NPR
A healthy market for new homes in St. Cloud – St. Cloud Times

The Midwest is outpacing the South in creating manufacturing jobs

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics Updated: January 13, 2015 - 10:06 AM

If you read much, you’d be tempted to believe that the Southeast is getting all the manufacturing jobs these days, and that the Midwest and the North in general are losing out.

It's a familiar narrative -- that the historic factory prowess of former Union states is rusting away and being supplanted by a new factory belt in the South.

The anecdotes keep coming. Polaris, the first snowmobile firm ever, and founded in northwest Minnesota, is opening a big ATV plant near Huntsville, Ala. Mercedes USA is moving its headquarters to Atlanta – from New Jersey. BMW is in Spartanburg, S.C. Volkswagen is in Chattanooga, Tenn. The list goes on.

Meanwhile, Detroit is limping out of bankruptcy and Michigan and Illinois are muddling along economically. Ohio and Wisconsin aren't dynamos right now either.

Heck, the New York Times even published something this fall about how the Midwest is losing all its good football players. “It is no coincidence that the Big Ten had postwar glory years, when the Midwest thrived on the back of the auto industry,” wrote Marc Tracy. “The Rust Belt and the decline of Big Ten football are not unrelated.”

Well, Ohio State (kickoff versus Oregon is 7:30 CT tonight) challenged the narrative of a permanently declining Big Ten by beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and it turns out, when you look at the numbers on manufacturing jobs, they show that the Midwest is outperforming the Southeast, by a pretty healthy margin.

This was a surprise to me. In the past five years, the Midwest (Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio) has outpaced the Southeast (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina), and has even widened the gap between the two regions when it comes to manufacturing jobs.

Hold on, you might say. Sure, the Midwest has done better than the Southeast in the past five years, but that's a small sample, and the Rust Belt has been rusting harder than the South for a long time.

You'd be wrong.

This chart shows the change in manufacturing employment over the past 25 years for both regions. I made the starting point in 1990 into 1 for both regions and then charted where the line went for both. Again, both have seen a negative trend since 1990, but the Midwest hasn't lost as much ground (relative to itself) as the South.

These charts don't say anything about wages, or the quality of jobs, but they do show that the narrative of a rising manufacturing sector in the South and a declining one in the Midwest is not exactly correct.

Opening Belz, Jan. 12

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: January 12, 2015 - 9:29 AM

Polaris, founded in northern MN, to build ATV plant near Huntsville, Ala. – StarTribune
Huntsville wooed Polaris with $80mn in incentives – Huntsville Times
Natural gas exports will fire up in 2015, global market emerges – Businessweek
ND looks at oil patch infrastructure, people worried about low oil prices – Bismarck Tribune
This kid earned his HS diploma and bachelor’s degree at the same time – StarTribune
An urban versus rural fight for state aid? – Pioneer Press
Atlanta offered an estimated $50mn for Mercedes USA HQ – NextCity
Keystone opponents in MN face oil train dilemma – StarTribune
Big and fast back in vogue at Detroit auto show – Detroit Free Press
Sound familiar? St. Louis plans new $985 million football stadium – Post-Dispatch
Oldie but goodie on Netflix’s business and how it works – Businessweek


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