Minnesota's economic growth just so-so

The state was No. 23, middle of the pack, in a federal ranking for 2011.

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State economist Tom Stinson, shown in February, says, “Nobody wants to be growing at just 1.2 percent.”

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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Minnesota's economy grew 1.2 percent in 2011, lagging the state average of 1.5 percent as the pace of growth slowed in most parts of the country, the U.S. Department of Commerce said Tuesday.

The state's gross domestic product (GDP) -- the sum of all goods and services produced -- was $244.9 billion. The inflation-adjusted growth of 1.2 percent, which is subject to revision, put Minnesota in the middle of the pack among states: No. 23.

Economists at Wells Fargo Securities characterized the report as showing "excruciatingly modest gains."

Growth in Minnesota has decelerated. GDP grew a revised 3.9 percent in 2010 as the state revved back from 2009, when the Minnesota economy shrank by 3.8 percent.

Two sectors were a particular drag on Minnesota's gains in 2011: management of companies, and government. The state government shutdown last summer likely factored into the state's overall GDP, said Minnesota state economist Tom Stinson. "Nobody wants to be growing at just 1.2 percent or even 1.5 percent," said Stinson. "We'd like to be growing 2.5 or 3 percent. This is nothing to cheer about."

"That said, at least it's positive and hopefully 2011 will be revised up."

The biggest areas driving the growth of Minnesota's economy were durable-goods manufacturing and finance and insurance, according to the Commerce Department.

North Dakota, amid an oil boom, was No. 1 with GDP growing 7.6 percent. The average for the seven-state Plains region clocked in at 1 percent; it was 3.4 percent in 2010.

The only U.S. region where growth accelerated from 2010 was the far West; the economy grew 2.1 percent in 2011 vs. 2.0 percent the previous year. Weakest were the mid-Atlantic states and the Southeast.

Six states saw their economies contract: Maine, New Jersey, Alabama, Mississippi, Wyoming and Hawaii.

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683

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