Minnesota Exports and the Celtic Tiger


There’s a lot going on with these exports.

I generated the following table in response to the questions from StatsGeek.


(Click here for a readable pdf of the table.)

This includes exports and population data for Minnesota and the other 19 states that export more than Minnesota. In short, it shows that only two other states, Kentucky and Massachusetts had slower export growth rates than Minnesota from 2010 – 2011.

Meanwhile, DEED has produced (wait for it) a boatload of data on factors that may explain why Minnesota’s export growth has trailed the U.S. average. Think Celtic Tiger + pacemakers.

This is the punch line in the very interesting explanation from Thu-Mai Ho-Kim, senior research analyst at DEED.

“If we exclude Ireland from both MN and US … MN export growth exceeds US growth for 4 years during the 2005-2011 period, rather than just in 2005, and for most years during the longer period of 1998-2011.”

If you want the gory details, here are excerpted parts of her explanation.

One big change that comes to mind involves Ireland (much more important to MN than US) and our medical exports (highly concentrated in MN compared to US).

• In the early 2000’s our top and strongest growth markets included Ireland because of very strong medical exports. Ireland was our #2 market 2003-2007.

• Starting in the mid-2000s and accentuated in the late 2000s, our overall growth rate was impacted as exports to Ireland plummeted/was erratic. These drops to Ireland primarily impacted exports of medical goods and some computer/electronics. Apparently (from other business article readings) the market/demand for the specific medical goods produced in/exported by MN (related to cardiac rhythm management …) declined drastically over a period of time, perhaps partially due to the slew of recalls around the late 2000s.

• Ireland has fallen 14th in 2011. (manufactured exports)


Between 1997 (oldest data available) and 2011, Ireland accounts for 0.6% to 1.0% of US exports, so a fairly small share and fairly stable share (although starts at about 0.7%, rises to 1% and then declines to 0.6%).

In 1997, Ireland accounts for about 1.9% of MN exports. This share gradually rises to a peak of 11.5% in 2003 (11.1% in 2004, 9.9% in 2005) and then as medical exports to Ireland sharply fall off, declines to 6.1% in 2009, 2.5% in 2010, and 1.8% in 2011. (For points of reference, in 2011, for mfg exports, our #2 partner China accounts for 11.5% of MN exports and our #3 partner Mexico accounts for 5.6% of MN exports.)

So … Ireland contributed a large share of exports in the mid-2000s and hence had a strong impact on our growth trends.

Here’s a chart that shows

1) Ireland as a share of MN exports (blue line),

2) % change in MN exports to Ireland (Green) and

3) % change in US exports to Ireland. (reddish)


If we exclude Ireland from both MN and US, the MN growth trends follow US more closely (though not in 2011), and MN export growth exceeds US growth for 4 years during the 2005-2011 period, rather than just in 2005), and for most years during the longer period of 1998-2011.


(Chart shows Growth rate from previous year. Red font indicates the MN growth rate exceeded the U.S. average.)

One final point from Thu-Mai Ho-Kim:

“Since the mid-2000s … fortunately we’ve seen tremendous growth in exports to China, and other emerging markets, which really helped our state exports and offset declines to Ireland!”

Next time I get a chance, I’ll try to figure out why exports to Ireland have fallen off.

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