"Inflation-watchers," a category that really should include all of us, came in for a couple of shocks this week. On Wednesday the government said consumer prices rose more than they have since May. And it turns out the Producer Price Index, a measure of what companies pay for their inputs, jumped more in October than it has in the past 15 years. Still, most economists are not overly concerned. Should you be?
Northwest Airlines pilots have approved a new
contract giving them a 15 percent annual pay cut for the next two years. The ratification comes at the same time Northwest revealed it is giving its top five executives millions of dollars in stock.
Economists are still looking for signs the job market is healthy again. But for those who are not healthy themselves, even looking for a job is a major challenge -- in good times and bad. More than 20 percent of working-age Minnesotans have a disability of some sort. Others are recovering from addiction that sent their working lives off the rails.
Despite all the attention given to a presidential election, for many in the business community state legislative races are of greater interest. On that front, this week's election yielded a major surprise. At least 13 seats in Minnesota's House of Representatives will shift from Republican to DFL control. The once solid Republican majority is now hair-thin. What's a state economy to make of this?
The focus of the presidential campaigns in Minnesota has turned almost entirely away from convincing undecideds. Instead, they're making sure every possible supporter casts a ballot on Election Day.
Some of the luster has worn off one of Minnesota's major shopping destinations. When the Swedish furniture chain IKEA opened across the street from the Mall of America in July, the buzz about its sleek, low-cost furniture had preceded it to the Twin Cities. But the new IKEA has left some customers disgruntled and even angry -- suggesting the store has faced more than routine challenges in its first three months.
Both major presidential candidates claim to be friends of business-people. Health care, tax cuts, and the state of the economy were the centerpieces of this week's domestic debate. On the question of Bush versus Kerry, there are signs the business community in Minnesota is leaning toward the President. But it's also clear neither man has the business vote locked up.
Negotiators for Eagan-based Northwest Airlines and its pilots have reached a tentative deal to save the airline $300 million in annual labor costs. Industry watchers had come to see a deal with the pilots as critical to Northwest's financial health. Still, the potential savings are only the first step down the path to long-term profitability for the carrier.
St. Paul-based Panzerfaust Records has alarmed civil rights groups with a massive campaign to put white power music in the hands of teenagers. It may now be the world's largest purveyor of racist music. Panzerfaust calls the new effort "Project Schoolyard USA," and the first CDs have just been shipped.
Usually businesses like to stay as far away from politics as possible. In a swing state like Minnesota, publicly casting your lot with one party or the other could turn off half your customers. But where most businesses see danger, a few see opportunity. Welcome to one store finding money to be made in the bitter political climate.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Eagan-based Northwest Airlines Tuesday unveiled their vision for a much larger Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The plan shows an airport ready to handle 60 percent more travelers by the year 2020. Officials with the state and the airline say they intend to make the Twin Cities the dominant air travel hub in the Midwest.
Job growth is not a technical requirement for an economic recovery. Minnesota and many other states have learned this the hard way since 2001. Even as the economy grew, the jobs lost during the recession of that year have been slow to return. Minnesota has regained less than 60 percent of the jobs lost since the start of the recession. The latest Minnesota jobs numbers, for August, don't do much to raise that tally.
When economists coined the term "economic recovery" to describe an economy that is growing, it's doubtful they considered the multiple layers of meaning it would carry. The word "recovery" seems to imply hope, happiness and comfort -- or at least movement in that direction. But to some in Minnesota, the period of recovery has brought continued unease and difficulty. This special report asks the question: "Whose recovery is it?"
In preparing for Whose Recovery Is It, Minnesota Public Radio reached out to our audience for their experiences with the economic recovery. Some of those stories found a home in the other pieces of this series, but we still had many great ones to share. They all tell us something different about the economy we live in. What follows are seven more voices from the Minnesota economy.
When Minnesota Public Radio reached out to members of our audience for their experiences with the economy, we received dozens of personal stories. Even though we didn't specifically ask about it, we also found people were inclined to mix politics with their economics. Politicians often get the blame or credit for the state of the economy. But do they deserve it?