Farm boom helps Minnesota to 13th-fastest-growing economy in 2013

The state continues Lake Wobegon-like above-average economic growth, mainly because of its thriving farming sector.

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Oct. 3, 2012: Tom Haag checked on equipment used to haul corn after he had emptied a wagon load of the grain into a semi-trialer.

Photo: JIM GEHRZ • jgehrz@startribune.com,

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Thanks in part to the state’s farm sector, Minnesota’s economic growth outpaced the nation’s last year, new government data showed Wednesday.

The state’s inflation-adjusted gross domestic product grew 2.8 percent in 2013, higher than the national growth rate of 1.8 percent. The numbers are preliminary; the state’s real GDP growth for 2012 was revised down to 2 percent from its preliminary figure of 3.5 percent.

For 2013, Minnesota ranked No. 13 for growth among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Minnesota’s real GDP per capita was $53,340, ranking No. 13 in that category as well.

Oil-rich North Dakota topped all states with growth of 9.7 percent, though that was less than half the 20.3 percent pace of growth it achieved in 2012.

With the exception of North Dakota, the eight fastest-growing states were in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions. South Dakota ranked ninth, Nebraska 10th and Iowa 12th, with their growth also driven by agriculture. Wisconsin ranked 27th.

While farming plays a smaller role in the Minnesota economy than in some of its neighboring states, the agriculture boom that stretched into its fifth year drove more than one-fifth of the state’s growth in 2013. Manufacturing of nondurable goods, such as food processing, was the second-biggest driver.

Broadly, the new numbers from the U.S. Department of Commerce continued to document a historically weak recovery from the 2008-2009 downturn. June marks the fifth anniversary of the end of the Great Recession.

“Minnesota’s broad economic base has helped it recover more quickly than some other places,” state economist Laura Kalambokidis said.

Kalambokidis noted that Minnesota recovered the jobs it lost during the recession faster than the nation and is on solid footing. She called the No. 13 ranking good and said she saw no red flags in the numbers that would suggest the state’s above-average performance would change. On the other hand, prospects for an acceleration in Minnesota depend on the direction of the broader national economy. “We’ve seen this sort of ‘just around the corner’ kind of economy for a while,” she said.

But Minnesota and its neighbors may not be able to count on farms and agriculture-related businesses to drive as much growth this year as they have been doing. Farm income fell in 2013 from 2012, which was one of the best years for farmers in decades, and is expected to be even lower this year.

Livestock producers are expected to have an easier time than crop farmers, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Farm Financial Management reported earlier this year. Commodity prices have plunged because of big planting and good weather, which has raised expectations of strong harvests.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture maintained its projection of record U.S. corn production and yield in its June estimate released Wednesday. It said slightly later-than-normal planting had been offset by favorable weather. Market prices for corn and wheat are down nearly 19 percent in recent months.

 

jennifer.bjorhus@startribune.com 612-673-4683 evan.ramstad@startribune.com 612-673-4241









 

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  • Laura Kalambokidis

  • Craig Breuer planted corn near Zumbrota, Minn., last month. The latest projections call for record corn yields this fall.

  • 2010 3.7%

    2011 2.5%

    2012 2.0%

    *2013 2.8%

    * preliminary

    Source: U.S. Department of Commerce

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