Economic Lookout: Better times on the Range, long-term worries

MinnEcon note: Aaron Brown spoke last summer about his concerns that policy makers were betting, again, that the Iron Range’s mineral wealth would save its economy.

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Aaron J. Brown | Balsam Township Itasca County

Since then, mining’s been on the upswing and unemployment is down on the Iron Range. In Hibbing, the jobless rate’s dropped from 9.6 percent in August to 8.5 percent.

The taconite mines have been hiring and the “good news is welcome,” he says.

At the same time, Brown, a source in MPR’s Public Insight Network, worries the euphoria of a recovering economy will again put off the conversation about creating jobs beyond the mines.

He’s also keeping watch on the political debate over public employees (he’s one). He’s not sure that people realize employee layoffs could cascade through the economy, hurting retail and other consumer spending. “The implications could be deeper here than in other parts of the state.”

Check out Brown’s video report and then post your thoughts below.

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Unemployment in Hibbing (not seasonally adjusted)

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Aaron Brown writes the MinnesotaBrown blog. He teaches communication at Hibbing Community College.

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