Posts Tagged ‘Unemployment’


Happy to be here-in the Crossroads of North America

September 21, 2012

Polaris expanding R&D plant-aims to hire up to 350; Apogee…stock soars; Target to hire…90K holiday workers; Boston Scientific buys local medical device company Bridgepoint; UM launches record 12 start-ups in Fiscal ‘12; MN companies named finalists in 13th Annual Tekne Awards; Mpls boast highest average credit scores in the nation…

All that good news packed into the TCB Briefcase yesterday afternoon, and yet I’m sure the Minnesota naysayers still started this morning filled with gloom and doom-most likely fueled by the one negative in that recap:  the loss of 2000 jobs puts MN unemployment rate at 5.9%.

It’s the old story…is the kettle half full or half empty.  Ever the optimist, when I saw the job loss, I wondered two things.  Was that the impact of the end of student summer jobs?  How does that amount of fluctuation measure up to pre-recession fluctuation?  Neither question was addressed in the article.

In any case, the headlines certainly reminded me of many of the positive things in the news over this last month about Minnesota.  I’ve called out a few of them on Facebook as they crossed my desk:

  •          Twin Cities is the 10th largest export market in 2011
  •          Minnesota is # 1 state in credit-worthiness
  •          GDP is higher today than prior to the 2007-2008 collapse with increases of $6.4 Billion
  •          Minnesota has low unemployment rate of 5.9% relative to the country as a whole
  •          More jobs were available in MN on August 30 than any time since 2007
  •          UM/MN business collaboration on improved technology for fracking industry
  •          A recent naturalization ceremony of 1500 recent immigrants was the largest in MN history
  •          A slow but positive recognition in MN that our “jobs” issues are education-related
  •          MN Millennial preference for “walkability” and urban life over the burbs
  •          MN education system in process of transformation integrating new technology that   supports today’s revised learning theories

Week after week, the good news in Minnesota outweighs the bad.  This week, for instance, has been especially positive:

  •          Minneapolis 1 year growth rate for jobs outpaced the state 2.1% to 1.7%
  •          MN has recovered 98% of all jobs that existed when the recession began in 2007
  •          Private sector jobs stand at 99% of 2007 levels
  •          Building permits are increasing; traditional housing sales doubled between the first and     second quarter of 2012
  •          Median housing prices increased 15% for traditional sales; 30% for lender-mediated sales
  •          Income average of $57,000
  •          Poverty stands at 12% – not great, but better than most
  •          MN just received $16 million grant from Department of Labor to support high tech training to meet demands for advanced manufacturing skills (no degree needed) with salaries averaging $42,000 nationally.

All this, and if we don’t remind ourselves differently, we are pulled down into gloom and doom when listening to national news.  While improving, our national economy was in far worse shape than Minnesota, and is recovering a bit slower. If we are not careful, the national picture becomes our individual excuse for not moving forward at a pace we want….we cannot let that happen.

Instead, I prefer to focus on our realistic local picture, and I try to remember some powerful statements I quoted in my August 10 blog entitled “the Opportunity of the Century”.  Both are the words and optimism of the author of that article, Guy Eggers:

The Midwest with its reputation for ingenuity, hard word and common sense will be at the helm of the recovery of the American Dream.

Rather than keep supporting a system that is fundamentally broken, we should harness the collective spirit and creative energies that so define this great nation to create a new business paradigm that truly reflects our values and vision for the world and that will lead to renewed growth and sustainable prosperity…let’s not leave this to the banks, the oil companies and the Chinese to build…Let’s get back to creative, innovative and smart.  Let’s build the world that we would like to see, together.  We have done it before and we can do it again.

To that I only add…let’s stop thinking of ourselves as the “flyover zone” and dream that as we once were, we can become again, the Crossroads of North America.





August 9, 2012

Daily, we find ourselves embroiled in who “knows best” in visualizing the correct path for economic recovery from the Bubble and its collapse during the first eight years of the 21st century.  The Press weigh in; the politicians weigh in; the economists weigh in, and every average American weighs in with finger pointing and theories of their choice; but as I listen I feel like we are missing an important key thought.

Through the posturing and finger-pointing, there is not much discussion about why theories of supply and demand seem suspended in time.   Every day, I see new numbers reflecting growing number of existing but unfilled jobs in corporate America.  Every day, we hear complaints that the supply of available unemployed workers is not diminishing fast enough.

But no one seems to put these two seemingly “opposites” together and asks “why aren’t they attracting one another and moving us forward?”

I believe one reason is the unemployed themselves.

First, the Great Recession has given many people the push to do what Americans do best:  Invent our own future.  Many are resetting their lives; changing their career paths, going back to school or launching a small business based on something they are passionate about.  In the uncertainty of a startup and erratic income common to business in its infancy, these new entrepreneurs hold tightly to the lifeline of Unemployment.  They report income when they have it; get no assistance that period, but the unpaid amount extends the lifeline by a like amount.  And of course, that means they continue to show up as part of the “unemployed” we are talking about.    It buys time for them as they create the NEW NORMAL that is needed from all of us if we expect to recover and grow.

Second, I see the grumbling that yes, there are jobs, but for less than I made before, so I am going to hold out as long as I can.  Despite intellectually knowing that inflated income and spending will not continue, they keep drawing unemployment rather than settle; and thus delay their transition to the NEW NORMAL.  I understand the emotional difficulty of giving in, but the result is that our unemployment rates remain high.

Third, they do not meet the needs of companies that, if they have openings, are moving forward into the future.  Those are the companies that can’t readily FIND workers with skills that meet the needs they have, as these companies also  are reinventing themselves for a NEW NORMAL.  And the reason the unemployed aren’t eligible for hires in that environment lies in another major issue of today- our educational system itself, but I will leave that for another day.

As I ponder that, I keep coming back to the review of Friedman’s  “The World Is Flat “that I watched in this past week.  He talked back in 2006 about the OLD middle class jobs going away, to be replaced by the NEW middle class jobs that fell into eight categories.  Jobs will be available for: great collaborators; great leveragers of technology; great synthesizers; great localizers; passionate personalizers; anyone “green”; great explainers; and great adapters.

Friedman warned it will not be about what you know but about what you can learn so you can adapt.

That’s a big helping of food for thought! And I think we can all agree, as we chant,” It’s the Economy, stupid”, whichever side we are on, we are the ones not showing much sense.  Neither candidate for President should be held accountable, nor knows how he can fix this problem.  We have all been led astray by the media , I think, who early on decided this should be THE TOPIC of election campaigns-and candidates and public alike, followed blindly along.

So I suppose we all will be “disappointed” in the results when whomever emerges as the victor in this battle cannot wave the magic wand and make it happen.

But those we should be disappointed in are ourselves.   We all know better, if we really think about it. We are missing a great opportunity for the future.