Posted at 5:48 AM on July 17, 2008
by Bob Collins
Posting will be sporadic -- or possibly non-existent -- today. I'm on the road in Rushford, which was hit by a flash flood nearly a year ago. It's appropriate, perhaps, that there are flash flood watches out today.
I'm on the road because somebody knew someone or something interesting in their town and bothered to tell me about it. How about you? What's interesting in your life or in your town.
All you have to do is tell me.
Here's a tip: If you get up at 5 in the morning to drive to Rushford, Minn., for a look at how the town has fared since a devastating flash flood a year ago, make sure you check your calendar to make sure you're doing so on the right day. Ask me how I know.
It turns out my appointments with some fine folks for a tour of the town are tomorrow.
No matter. It's a nice town and a beautiful area and I'll be happy to go back again on Friday.
In the meantime, I had the opportunity to look around today. If you want to have a flash flood, Rushford is the perfect place to have it. It sits at the bottom of several hills, and while you wouldn't think Rush Creek would be a threat to the town...
... it most certainly was a threat back on August 18, 2007 when a flash flood killed six people in Southeast Minnesota.
The town still needs help, but help has pretty much run out. The volunteers that are left are soon going to pull out. On Saturday, the town will thank the volunteers who helped put the town back together.
It's not hard to figure out where the flood waters swept through. Look for either a new home, a FEMA trailer, or an empty lot...
Construction boomed during the spring, but has tapered off now. Tomorrow afternoon, I'll give you a little multimedia guided tour of the community.
There are signs that things are better than our depressed emotional states may think they are where the economy is concerned.
Today, state officials say Minnesota gained jobs for the second consecutive month in June.The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development says the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 5.3 percent, down from 5.4 percent in May. The U.S. jobless rate held steady at 5.5 percent in June.
Unemployment is never a good thing for those involved, but it's not entirely as if we're crashing and burning.
This graphic, by MPR's Than Tibbetts, tells me that one of the reasons things feel so unusually bad right now is that they were so unusually good before. But in the big scheme of things, they're generally.... usual.
It was interesting -- to me -- to listen to Cathy Wurzer this morning talk to three people about their experiences with the economy. Two of the three were doing pretty well -- the health care consultant in Rochester and the outfitter in Ely. The third -- a person in the lumber business -- said things were pretty poor and we're a long way from getting back to "where we were," but he said there are positive signs that things are starting to turn around.
However, MPR's business reporter, Annie Baxter, has put together a documentary that takes a look at the economy in Minnesota these days. The first installment -- posted online -- was decidedly downbeat, mostly because it focuses on the housing industry. Clearly, we've learned by now, the housing industry ripples through the entire economy, and it dominates the news.
But the comparatively upbeat employment picture of the last couple of months suggests that there's at least the possibility that the drumbeat of negative news is not entirely warranted. The fact is, most people in Minnesota haven't lost their jobs. And most people in Minnesota won't.
Other nuggets from the employment report:
* While the U.S. lost 438,000 jobs through the first half of this year, Minnesota added 1,900 jobs. We're not rolling in boom times, of course. But we're not a "cold Detroit" either.
* According to a news release from the state, "Manufacturing added 1,300 jobs during June. The state's manufactured exports are up nearly 10 percent this year through May.
Other sectors gaining jobs this month included Government, and Education and Health Services, which each gained 1,400 jobs. Growth was also seen in Financial Activities (up 900), Other Services (up 600) and Construction (up 600)."
* Contrary to what you may have heard, government is not expanding, at least in terms of the number of state workers as a percentage of the total labor force. Taking people who work for the courts and Legislature out of the mix, the ratio of state workers to the labor force is relatively unchanged over the last 8 years. There is one state worker for every 55.8 members of the labor force. A year ago it was one for every 56.3 and in 2004, it was one for every 55. (These numbers are as of Jan. 1 each year.)(20 Comments)