A new report by BMO Capital Markets sizes up Minnesota's economy with the phrase "modest growth." The bankers see the state's unemployment rate of 5.8 percent as a strength, especially now that cutbacks among government agencies have eased. Exports are not soaring like they were a year ago, but are slowly growing. And while the housing industry has not exactly recovered, the upturn in home prices is encouraging.
At the same time, MPR highlighted the construction industry's return to hiring. Minnesota contractors are hiring at a rate 12 percent ahead of a year ago.
Of course, economic generalizations about the whole state can be tricky. The Department of Employment and Economic Development notes that each of the 87 counties has an economic life of its own. A recently published map breaks down the leading industry in each.
One of the challenges confronting Minnesota's economy is the task of absorbing more than 300,000 veterans who are entering or rejoining the workforce. The unemployment rate among veterans is nearly double that of the general population.
There are also storm clouds - or maybe a lack of clouds - over the agricultural economy. State Ag Commissioner Dave Frederickson writes in Agweek that the ongoing drought looms as a potential drain on the state's $75 billion farm economy.