By Ken Martin, Chairman, Minnesota DFL
The calendar says spring, but the snow and cold makes it feel more like winter. Luckily Minnesotans are hardy and the thoughts of days fishing on the lake and picnics with family and friends keep us going.
While the weather is cold, Minnesota’s economy is hot.
More than 140,000 jobs have been created since Gov. Mark Dayton took office. The state is at 31,400 more jobs than the peak before the Great Recession. And with 2.8 million people in the workforce, Minnesota has more people working than any other point in history. Minnesota’s median household income continues to outpace the U.S.
Thanks to the positive employment news, Minnesota’s latest unemployment rate is 4.7 percent. This is much lower than the national rate of 6.6 percent. Even with the cold weather in January, Minnesota gained jobs. The cold weather also hasn’t chilled the improving housing market which is great news for families whose major investment is their home. Median home sales are 12 percent higher than January 2013. Minnesota has hit a point where foreclosures and short sales are coming on the market.
Minnesota is moving in the right direction and people are taking notice. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor said Minnesota had the 5th fastest growing economy in the nation; in 2013, Forbes named Minnesota the 8th best place in the country to do business; and the Twin Cities ranked 7th in the American City Business Journals’ index of top-performing metropolitan economies in the country – jumping 48 spots from a year earlier.
And the good news keeps coming. Thanks to the work of Gov. Mark Dayton and the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL)-led Legislature, Minnesota has a budget surplus of $1.23 billion. Under a law recently signed by Gov. Dayton, a portion of this money was used for tax cuts for the middle class and businesses.
Yet in the wake of this good news, Republicans and their special interest groups want you to think the economic sky is falling.
A recent email from the Republican Party of Minnesota used a story from 2009 – in the midst of the Great Recession – to try to make the case that business people were leaving the state. It also pointed to Wisconsin as pro-business.
The Republicans need to fast forward to the reality of 2014. More people are working than ever before, unemployment is low and business people are still drawn to Minnesota for our educated workforce. The person featured in the 2009 article who feared businesses were leaving our state is still doing business in Minnesota; in fact his corporation’s website states it recently required an in-house marketing agency.
And Wisconsin? In the most recent one-year period, the state lost 700 manufacturing jobs. In the last month, it netted zero new jobs in the private sector. Wisconsin is currently 35th in the nation in job creation; down from 11th in the nation with Republican Gov. Scott Walker took office.
With the investments made last session by Gov. Dayton and the DFL in early childhood education, expanding the Minnesota Investment Fund and transportation improvements through the Corridors of Commerce Program, we will see continued economic growth and an even Better Minnesota.