Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Still think this economy is on fire? 

While the DFL contemplates how much to try to raise taxes, perhaps it should think about the state of the state economy. New state personal income figures came out, and the upper Midwest has problems due to farm income declining.
While total personal income grew 6.3 percent in the U.S. from 2005 to 2006, it increased by 5.3 percent in the region including South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis in Washington.

The income figures include both pay and other factors such as dividends, interest, rent and transfers. Those other factors are on par with the national economy, so the real difference is what's happening in the labor market, said David Lenze, a bureau economist.

"The one thing that stands out is the farm sector, and that sector was subtracting from growth last year," he said. "It knocked off about a half percentage point from earnings growth in the Plains region."

The farm sector also subtracted from growth in 2005, but at a lower pace -- 0.39 percentage points, he added.
Sounds like a great time to pass a fertilizer tax, eh Mr. Junhke? Farm losses reduced personal income here by 0.64%. Big contributors to growth were health care and wholesale trade (yup, middlemen.)

But let's be clear -- the governor's office last year ran on a record that said the economy was booming. As noted last fall, these data are a patchwork of wages, dividends and interest, farm income, etc. There can be little mistaking that the general trend in the Plains states is down, and that the worst two states in the bunch are Minnesota and North Dakota. Minnesota actually fell in the rankings of state per capita income from tenth to twelfth. Might you want to ask how government can help this? By taking some of that income and "investing in the economy"? What were they doing with it before? Lighting cigars?

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