From what you can see, does Minnesota’s economy seem to be moving in the right direction?

Minnesota’s unemployment rate fell again last month, even as the number of jobs continued to decline as well. State officials say the conflicting signals make it hard to assess the state’s job market. Today’s Question: From what you can see, does Minnesota’s economy seem to be moving in the right direction?

  • No

  • Rich

    Ye of to little hope.

    Americans will come to the rescue by doing what they do best, that is to borrow and consume.

  • GregX

    based on the information and assuming the population didn’t decrease – then …. I would say there are more people who quit looking – and therefore aren’t counted. what is the actual simple rate of employed adults divided by the population age 16 and over – for the last 50 years.?

  • Steve the Cynic

    Are we heading in a direction? It looks more to me like we’re too busy with our political tug-o-war to head anywhere. We’re too focussed on economic statistics, forgetting what the economy is for. Mere money is not an accurate measure of happiness and well being, either for individuals or for society as a whole. Here’s the question we should be asking: Where are we going, and what are we doing in this handbasket?

  • Zach

    No. The American consumer is likely to continue deleveraging for another 3-5 years.

  • Rich

    The problem is that even a year won’t do it. At current savings rates, the consumer is likely to continue deleveraging (with the accompanying poor housing market) for another “3-5 years”. If the state government starts deleveraging at the same time, we’re very likely to find ourselves in a recession again, at which point deleveraging will cease to work for both consumers and the government.

    The smart way to be addressing the debt today is to be looking at long term reform of the entitlements to the elderly that are the long term threats to budget balancing. Making a major change in either pensions or health care is likely to involve immediate additional expenses (buying somebody off) followed by long term savings. This would be the perfect time, for instance to implement universal (but rationed) healthcare to replace Medicare and Medicaid. The expensive transition would be expansionary and stimulative now, when we need it, but would be a big step towards solving long term budget issues, which would build confidence more than any short term hair shirt austerity program that the current debt-budget theater is likely to produce.

  • Zach

    I agree Rich. These “hair-shirt” ideas coming from the legislature seem rather short sighted. But hey, this is the government voters put into office.

    The long term structural deficit is the problem. Tax and entitlement reform is the solution. Too bad the politicians are too busy wearing that ‘hair-shirt” of theirs to fix it.

  • Duane

    I would have to give a qualified yes. I believe the progress of the economy is reliant on the “Value Added” of the products produced. We have seen excellent prices in the rural sector of this state, and even with high input cost, most farmers have fared quite well. However, the non agriculture sector of this state has not fared as well. Much of the job creation has been in the public arena, such as roads, public safety and public education. These are necessary functions, but they do not create any value added immediately. Once the non agricultural private community begins to once again create “Value Added” products, I would say we have fully recovered.

  • david

    No, it is not moving in the right direction, at least not for me. Very little construction is going on in the state. The place I work laid off 1/3 of it’s employees last week. Merry Christmas.

  • Bill

    Duane, what’s your take on the bubble that is now occurring in ag-farm land?

  • Mark G

    I think things are improving for many Minnesotans, and the higher up the income ladder you go, the more things appear to be improving. However, for the less-fortunate, less-paid, less-skilled, and less-educated, things most definitely are NOT better. Gas prices are still too high, health care costs are still rising too fast, property taxes and other “fees” are still too onerous, utility bills are still too inflationary……while wages and benefits (if any) are stagnant. In short, here, as in most parts of the country, the rich are still getting the elevator and everyone else is still getting the shaft.

  • Bear

    Great idea Rich, cut off the elderly who have been FORCED to contribute to Social Security their whole life and yet will not even recover the principle unless they live to 100. Brilliant solution YOUNG man.

  • GregX

    Rich says “The smart way to be addressing the debt today is to be looking at long term reform of the entitlements to the elderly that are the long term threats to budget balancing. ” ===================================== what are you talking about? what reform look like ?

  • Larry M.

    There is some light at the end of the tunnel. The business I work for has opened a second store and is planning the opening of a third and there is a possibility of relocation of the first because another business is expanding in our state. It’s a fragile recovery with any number of silly political moves or the European debt crisis could knock off track, but the U.S. economy is driven by the opportunistic and investors are not going to stay on the sidelines forever for fear that they will miss the boat.

  • Jim G

    I have only my experience to go by, but I have one long-term unemployed step-son living in my basement. The depression of his long term unemployment is a real problem that will take years to correct, if ever. We, his mother and I, might have a permanent lost generation on our hands. To us it’s really about the plight of these workers. Futures have been destroyed while the the 1% continue their war on Americans.

  • John

    Yes, now that we have the Indefinite Detention Bill passed we will have less people around to worry about and therefore more jobs.Most people will be in the FEMA camps. Right?

  • Rich

    @ GregX And Bear

    The only way out of the gerontocracy trap is to simultaneously offer Medicare for all. You can’t reform Medicare because to do so is an attach on seniors, which they will fight. You can’t means test Medicare because middle class seniors (the ones who vote the most) know that they will be paying more. But if you offer Medicare to all, reform is absolutely essential, and it will be harder for the seniors to argue about means testing when the young are paying 80% of the premiums and the old are taking 80% of the services.

    So if you are a conservative, you start by offering Medicare to all. You make the annual dues for young people astronomical for the full plan, so you offer them cheaper versions of Medicare which are not fee-for-service, or high deductible and co-pay, and/or run through private insurers. Then you tell the seniors that they have to move to the cheaper versions of Medicare if they want to avoid fees, fees which are means tested. This will take a decade or more, but if we don’t pursue a path like this, the politics become impossible.

    The takeaway lesson is that you can’t privatize or otherwise reform Medicare unless you make it universal, first.

  • Regnar James

    My work (at least the top five) is doing VERY good.

    Personally, I’m in a salaried position, with travel and mandatory unpaid OT,,, I average 60 hours per week and get paid for 40. My pay has not increased over the cost of living for the past 12 years, in fact I have endured two separate one yearlong 10% pay cuts.

    I am told repeatedly “Just be lucky you have a job”,,, that gets old when the owner is living in a three million dollar house on a lake, and drives multiple $100K+ vehicles…. Oh yah and the “company” turboprop & jet airplanes.

    DTOM

  • James

    I run a small manufacturing company and meet monthly with leaders of other small manufacturers. Almost everyone in our group is reporting significant year-over-year growth. In the 20% to 40% range.

    That sort of growth drives a certain amount of hiring, although the lessons of 2008 are still fresh in our minds, and everyone is being very careful to not over-staff or over-pay.

    We are still a long ways from the “fat days” of the mid-2000’s and probably will never see those days again. But, I do think things are improving.

  • Julia Childs

    “The takeaway lesson is that you can’t privatize or otherwise reform Medicare unless you make it universal, first.

    Posted by Rich | December 16, 2011 10:29 AM ”

    Oh, I get it Rich, it’s like that frog experiement. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it will jump out…but if you put the frogs in moderate water and slowly turn up the heat to boil, they will remain in the pot and die.

    Good thinking.

  • Duane

    Bill, I have seen three bubbles in farm land prices in my lifetime. In all three cases, the price per acre peaked and than declined and in doing so resulted in the less prudent person being forced to liquidate or at least downsize. Whether this happens this time remains to be seen. The 529 exchange has caused many non farm investors to acquire land and spiraling prices. Some of them may get hurt resulting in a decline in land prices as you are now seeing in the housing prices. Be cautious, but if it happens,it will be independent of the general economy of the country.

  • Craig

    I think many individual Minnesotans are moving in the right direction; toward ownership. Labor prices (both blue and white collar) will continue to drop as the global labor supply increases. People with good business ideas will find it cheaper to hire and their margins will widen.

  • Bear

    @Rich, now that you have narrowed your scope to healthcare, I actually agree with you. Take away or reduce my social security benefits, into which I have paid for over 45 years, ouch, not fair game!

    Our healthcare system is severely broken on all points: users, providers, insurers, and administrators. These all drive up costs. Universal healthcare works in other countries, it can work here. Those with a stake in the current system need to set aside their self interest and cease with the scare tactics: die of the disease before getting a Doctor’s appointment.

    However, Obama’s healthcare initiative made only very minor tweaks and did not address the root cause of the problem; it has many unintended consequences and costs.

    Healthcare is almost 1/5 of our total GNP and growing. It needs to be fixed and tamed. Fix healthcare system and you free up a lot of money to invest in business development, renewable energy, and more.

    @Julie, is the water is warm or boiling?

  • Rich

    @ Bear

    Social Security is in theory quite healthy, but in practice excess Social Security taxes have reduced our outstanding debt by $2.5 trillion dollars over the past three decades. If we have to actually pay back what we owe the trust fund, taxes will have to rise substantially, or Medicaid will have to stop paying for retirement homes for the poor, or something else drastic. So Social Security would be in pretty good shape if we could afford to pay it what we owe it, but we can’t, because of health care.

    I think the best option is probably to put the onus on doctors’ groups to reduce costs by offering them a set annual fee per patient based on that patient’s age and any chronic ailments. There will still be problems, and the correct level of regulation will be hard to judge. But medicine will never be a perfect market, and market solutions alone will never produce a workable and humane system.

  • Julia Childs

    “@Julie, is the water is warm or boiling?”

    Dear Mr. Bear,

    It doesn’t matter, there is no safe landing place…from the pot into the fire.

    How is the water on your side of the pot?

    I am a believer in karma.

  • Julia Childs

    To answer the question,

    “From what you can see, does Minnesota’s economy seem to be moving in the right direction?”

    Is that direction suppose to be downward and in a spiral?

  • suestuben

    This country, blessed with space for all and more natural resources than almost any land in the world, led by thoughtful founders who believed that democracy would be the key to preserving our riches and birthing generations of educated, well-fed land owners for hundreds of years….

    Well, this fantastic experiment has proven that everything men lay their hands and hearts to is doomed to fail, ‘largely’ because these men are never able to see past the end of their egos. We’ve driven this country upon the hard rocks of ruin and there will be no recovery so long as the men in Washington keep bumping their chests into each other. The middle class is dying while the politicians become the 1%. Our children will live shorter, poorer lives than we will. Our infrastructure and educational system is crumbling and most of us are too busy or uneducated to understand why.

    The rest of the world is standing up to the dictators and charlatans that lead their countries and we must follow that example. Throw the bums in Washington out (and for God’s sake, don’t replace them with Bachmann idiots)! There is a slender chance that something good can still become of us, otherwise we have wasted this mighty land and deserve the wretched fate that awaits us.

  • Mike

    Most all of the statistics are pointing in the right direction. My own business has been increasing and we’ve been hiring and our employees have as much overtime as they choose.

    But if you’re unemployed, those statistics are of little value to you .It would seem that it’s going to take more than four years to recover from the eight years of the previous administration.

  • Zach

    I wonder why letting tax cuts for high income earners expire is called a “tax increase” and not allowed.

    But letting tax cuts expire for workers is not a “tax increase” and is allowed.

    Just wondering … maybe someone can explain that to me.

  • MzM

    “In its monthly report, the state Department of Employment and Economic Development said the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate last month was a half-point lower than in October. The rate dropped even though employers cut 13,700 jobs.”

    More fuzzy math from our “Leaders.”

    There are statistics and then there are statistics, what number do you want?

  • Julia Childs

    “We’ve driven this country upon the hard rocks of ruin and there will be no recovery so long as the men in Washington keep bumping their chests into each other. The middle class is dying while the politicians become the 1%. Our children will live shorter, poorer lives than we will. Our infrastructure and educational system is crumbling and most of us are too busy or uneducated to understand why. ”

    Dear SueStuben,

    While I agree with what you are saying throughout your entire post, I will only comment that it does not take a degree and it is not Rocket Science to understand that we are being lied to by those we hired to guide us.

    It appears those who succeed and those who do not is a fixed game. It is rigged.

    Yes we really do need to level out the playing field.

  • Jerry

    @ Julia

    Winston Churchill once pointed out that: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing; after they’ve exhausted every other possibility”

    The best government money can buy…..