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Positive indicators that economy continues bounce back

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Minnesota's economy continues to strengthen and shake off the doldrums of the recession. The employment and housing sectors are among the areas that are seeing growth. It's more than a positive feeling; there are statistics that bear out the uptick.

The Star Tribune cites numbers from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors that shows that home sales in the Twin Cities metro area outpaced national sales by posting an unprecedented 17 percent increase from 2011 to 2012.

As a result, the paper reports that the real estate industry is having difficulty keeping up with the growth in the housing market. Houses are selling faster than they're being listed, so real estate agents, loan officers and appraisers can hardly keep up with the demand. Builders, contractors, suppliers and skilled workers are so busy that many are adding jobs. The momentum has a spillover effect on businesses adjacent to the housing sector, including lumber yards, insurance companies and petroleum sellers.

The Alexandria Echo Press reports that new business filings are up significantly from the same period a year ago. The Secretary of State's office said that 5,519 new businesses filed with the office in January. That's a 4.4 percent increase compared to the same time period in 2012. This is the second highest January on record.

Meanwhile, the Mankato Free Press reports strong employment in the greater Mankato area. The Mankato-North Mankato Metropolitan Statistical Area saw job growth of 7.5 percent from 2002 to 2012. The paper reports that's the largest growth of any city in the state. St. Cloud had a 6.1 percent job growth in the same time period.

Brent Pearson, a Mankato-based regional analyst with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, credits Mankato's economic diversity and stability for the job growth. More workers in manufacturing, retail, education, health care, and food services have contributed to the lower jobless rates in the region.

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