Bill Catlin Feature Archive

The nation's economic recovery officially began almost three years ago. But judging from job numbers, government workers in Minnesota, especially those in local government, are in more of a recession than a recovery. City and county governments and public schools in Minnesota have lost thousands of jobs in the last year. Wages fell behind inflation as well. (09/14/2004)
When hot companies like Google issue stock it can get a lot of attention. But after selling stock to the public, companies sometimes buy some of it back. After selling the Marshall Field's chain, Target Corporation announced it would spend up to $3 billion to buy its own stock. We wondered why companies sometimes want their shares back. (08/15/2004)
Minnesota has a proud history of entrepreneurship. Pioneers like Curt Carlson, Earl Bakken of Medtronic, Bill Norris of Control Data, and Richard Schulze of Best Buy built billion-dollar success stories and created thousands of jobs in Minnesota. But lately the state's entrepreneurship is lagging, and that's raising concerns about Minnesota's future prosperity. (08/08/2004)
Target Corp. announced Thursday it is selling its Mervyn's business unit and retail stores to an investment consortium for roughly $1.65 billion in cash. (07/29/2004)
Xcel Energy shut off service to at least 28 customers who were mistakenly over-billed because of faulty gas meter reporting devices. Xcel revealed last week that at least 164 customers were billed double what they owed because of problems with wireless meter reading devices. The utility has apologized to affected customers, is issuing refunds, and says it continues to investigate the problem. (07/19/2004)
Thousands of customers are expected to turn out for the much-anticipated opening of the new Ikea store in Bloomington. The store near the Mall of America is part of a major U.S. expansion for the Swedish furniture chain. Ikea's low-cost, assemble-it-yourself products already have a devoted following here. Many Minnesotans have driven to the company's Chicago store. (07/14/2004)
Fridley-based Medtronic and Genzyme of Massachusetts are officially launching a marriage of medical devices and biotech, with the goal of mending damaged hearts. The two companies announced their joint venture a month ago. They're testing promising techniques a University of Minnesota researcher pioneered. (07/01/2004)
Officials with May Department Stores say they won't change much about Marshall Field's when they buy the department store chain from Target Corporation. But will that extend to Marshall Field's charitable giving? For now, the answer is up in the air. Officials with both companies say that aspect of the deal remains to be sorted out. But non-profit executives remain optimistic about the outcome. (06/14/2004)
May Department Stores Co. announced Wednesday it will buy Marshall Field's department stores and nine Mervyn's locations in the Twin Cities for $3.24 billion in cash. The move strengthens May's presence in the Midwest, giving it 62 Marshall Field's stores, mostly in Chicago, Detroit and the Twin Cities. The nine Mervyn's stores will be closed. (06/09/2004)
Today marks the start of the first summer since 9/11 that visitors can return to the Minnesota Air Guard Museum at Twin Cities International Airport. The museum features more than a dozen historic military aircraft, and the story of the nation's first Air National Guard unit. Security concerns forced the museum to close after 9/11, but it will be open most Saturdays this summer. New displays include the role of one Twin Cities-based flight crew on the day of the attacks. (05/31/2004)
If you drive, you're undoubtedly watching gas prices. They change a lot -- sometimes more than once a day, and mostly upwards over the past several months. Last week, Twin Cities gas prices jumped 20 cents a gallon, to $2.20 in many cases. They've fallen since then, but that got us wondering about why prices change so much. (05/26/2004)
Minnesota's job market improved dramatically in April. The state's unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent. The decline was the largest ever. The state's economy added more than 12,000 jobs -- the most in several years. But job seekers say there's still a lot of competition for work. (05/18/2004)
The U.S. officially came out of a recession almost two and a half years ago. Since then, the economy has grown, but the number of jobs has not. Minnesota has fewer jobs now than at the end of the recession. So does the nation as a whole, despite solid gains in the first three months of the year. (05/05/2004)
As more companies hunt for cheaper labor in places like India and China, offshore outsourcing has become a flashpoint in the presidential campaign and in state legislatures. Outsourcing is spreading from the manufacturing sector into the service economy and affecting white-collar workers, many with higher wages and skill levels. While outsourcing often gets blamed for job losses, finding cheaper labor can also save or even create jobs. (03/24/2004)
Negotiators for Twin Cities bus drivers and the Metropolitan Council are expected to return to the negotiating table before a March 2 strike deadline. The Amalgamated Transit Union's nearly 2,200 drivers overwhelmingly rejected an offer last week. Benefits are a key issue in the dispute. (02/23/2004)