3D Economics with Adam Belz

  • December 29, 2012 - 9:04 PM
A look at some of the biggest economics stories of the year

Here are the top five economics stories of 2012 in the Upper Midwest, loosely defined as the region from Michigan to the Dakotas, plus northern Illinois and all of Iowa.

1. The North Dakota oil boom is attracting capital and population, shifting job markets, rerouting railroads and helping create frac sand riches and controversy.

2. Labor lost big legislative battles, and employers are locking out workers all over the place. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker won his 2012 recall election after he championed a law that ended collective bargaining rights for most public employees. In December, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a right-to-work law in the home state of the United Auto Workers. In Minnesota, symphony musicians, sugar workers and NHL players have been locked out.

3. In Minnesota, as the population ages and baby boomers cycle into retirement, the state's workforce is shrinking. And the young people that will make up a disproportionate share of the future workforce will be black and Latino.

4. Midwest farmland prices may have peaked. The Des Moines Register reports that overseas farmers will ramp up production in response to high commodity prices. The result will be a decline in prices and therefore land values in the Midwest.

5. Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Narayana Kocherlakota, generally thought of as an inflation hawk, became one of the most vocal proponents of keeping interest rates low indefinitely.

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