Minnesota posted its highest jobless rate since 1986 in July — the fifth time ever above the national average, the Strib’s Mike Meyers writes. The state lost 8,600 jobs last month; the 171,500 unemployed is the most since 1983. Last year, 40,000 fewer people were officially jobless. Construction and manufacturing accounted for more than half the annual losses. The PiPress’s Julie Forster says the government sector lost the most jobs from June to July.
More unemployment: Fed economist Art Rolnick says Minnesota still has higher labor-force participation that other states, Meyers notes. (Unemployment figures don’t count folks judged “discouraged” or stopped looking for work; a counting method that’s controversial.) State education and health sectors are growing.
Unemployment politics: No one, near as I could find, assesses the impact on one individual looking for a new job: Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Here we journalists are, slobbering over VP prospects, and no one discusses how a rather meaningful bit of substance affects Pawlenty’s hopes or even presses the man for a comment? Oh well, today’s a chance for a Day Two story.
Final unemployment thought: The Strib’s headline — “Unemployment hits 25-year high” — is technically accurate but non-optimal. It’s based on that raw number (171,500 unemployed) but as MPR’s Bob Collins notes, the state’s population has gone up a lot since the previous 1983 high; 750,000 more people are also working since then. A fairer headline would’ve read: “Jobless rate hits 23-year-high.” By the way, Collins started a good reader debate on his site.
Also, Minnesota’s inflation rate rose 3.8 percent in 2008’s first six months, Finance and Commerce’s Burl Gilyard reports. Transportation and food costs rose over 7 percent.
Thirty-eight illegal immigrants were swept up in recent drug raids, the Strib’s James Walsh writes. Another dozen were U.S. citizens or permanent residents; 10 gangs were involved, authorities say. Despite blather about “sanctuary cities,” federal immigration agents swept up most suspects in Minneapolis or St. Paul — though those cities’ cops were not listed as assisters. An omission or another story? (The Metro Gang Strike Force, which includes big-city cops, is listed.) The busts were part of a nationwide effort targeting “transnational street gangs.”
More raid: KSTP offers some Brooklyn Center arrest video.
The Met Council is still contemplating whether to keep that fourth I-94 lane open after the I-35W bridge collapse, but seems to be leaning against. The Strib’s Libby Nelson notes troopers have no place to pull folks over, and transit times have been hurt (a dedicated shoulder lane was lost). I smell talk-radio outrage! A decision could come next week, or after the new bridge opens.
Is the U bigfooting 911? The school’s medical side is setting up a 911-like hotline for chest pain worriers — which has the real 911 worried about duplication and confusion, the Strib’s Josephine Marcotty observes. The U says the line is for folks unsure if they’re having a problem. They might resist a 911 call, but the 911 folks say the U is just trying to grab patients from rivals. The U’s line has been humming, but the American Heart Association advocates calling 911.
Ear infections requiring tubes increase childhood weight gain, U researchers disclosed. The PiPress’s Jeremy Olson explains the theory: ear infections damage a nerve affecting taste, which makes people “unknowingly crave bolder-tasting foods high in fat and sugar.” Ear-tube kids were twice as likely to be overweight at age 2. Non-tube infections are a non-issue. Tonsil removal might work the same way. Some scientists suggest the causality is backward, and obesity increases ear infection risk.
St. Paul has been forced to buy GOP convention cops from out of state, the PiPress’s Mara Gottfried reports. Madison, Milwaukee, Iowa and possibly Boston (home of a 2004 convention) may fill the local holes. We’re only 16 protesting days away! Going national will presumably ladle more costs on the convention’s $50 million budget. Minnesota Independent’s Paul Demko notes St. Cloud is one of the local outfits sending fewer cops than hoped.
Other convention notes: John McCain’s GOP convention stage will be just four feet off the ground, as opposed to the towering “battleships” of yore, the PiPress’s Jason Hoppin says. The GOP is going for a townhall-like feel. Massive anti-GOP graffiti keeps popping up, KSTP reports. Musical acts like Gretchen Wilson, Robert Earl Keen, Sammy Hagar, Lee Ann Rimes and Chris Daughtry will be in town, the Strib’s Chris Riemenschneider notes.
One in four spring home sales involved repossesion, the PiPress’s Jennifer Bjorhus writes. The specific number, 22 percent, is up from 10 percent a decade ago; in North Minneapolis, 60 percent of sales were “lender-mediated,” Finance and Commerce’s Burl Gilyard reports. The Strib’s Jim Buchta says foreclosure sales have doubled in a year while traditional listings are down 16 percent. But traditional prices fell just 3.4 percent while lender-led homes fetched 12 percent less.
MPR’s Tom Scheck nails GOP state Senate leader Dave Senjem for tune-changing on wife-batterer Mark Olson’s recent endorsement. Senjem was all “will of the people” three weeks ago, but now decries the local GOP’s endorsement. Senjem says he needed more time to reflect. His caucus is backing Olson’s primary opponent and wouldn’t let a victorious Olson join the group.
Reacting to the bridge collapse, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s newly proposed budget rediscovers public works. A 6.9 percent levy increase will help produce $27.5 million more to resurface the City of Potholes’ roads and other improvements, the Strib’s Steve Brandt reports. Like St. Paul pols, Rybak will trim the city’s regular 8 percent levy hikes with “hefty” fee hikes; in all, the average home will see a $45 increase overall. Fox9 has more details.
MPR’s Stephanie Hemphill notes an east-metro pollutant-laden plume “may have spread as far as it’s going to go. Groundwater in Oakdale, Lake Elmo, Woodbury and Cottage Grove has been contaminated with the 3M chemical PFC. Natural processes and contaminant wells are doing the job, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says.
Hennepin County Library chief Amy Ryan has been offered Boston’s top bookworm job, the Strib’s Steve Brandt reports. She’s dickering over Beantown terms as we speak. Back home, there’s still a lot of Minneapolis-system merger work remaining, Brandt observes.
R.I.P., Wilson’s: The Leather Experts. The cowhide retailer will close its last 100 mall stores and end operations, the PiPress’s Gita Sitaramiah writes. It recently sold its outlet stores and e-commerce operations, and those remain open.
A federal judge can’t “second-guess” UnitedHealth Group ex-head Bill McGuire’s $426 million backdated-options settlement, the Strib’s Chen May Yee notes. U.S. Judge James Rosenbaum asked the Minnesota Supreme Court for a state-law interpretation governing his powers. In essence, the local Supremes said Rosenbaum can’t touch the deal’s structure but can assess the settlement committee’s independence and procedures, the PiPress’s Jennifer Bjorhus writes. Sounds like the deal will go through.
If you love a good crime yarn, keep following PiPresser David Hanners’ developing series on Taylor Winthorpe Trump, the drug-dealing, alleged-mortgage-fraudster informant who snared Minneapolis cop Michael Roberts in a payoff scheme. Here’s just one tidbit: Trump had a website promising: “281 Pound Body Builder Spills His Gut And Reveals All He Knows About How To Write Killer Internet Web Site Sales Copy.” Who couldn’t read on?
Fair is fair: After yesterday’s Chinese study pronouncing the U the 28th-best school in the world, a Forbes study puts the school 524th of 569, the Minnesota Daily notes. Graduation rates and student ranking on the very prestigious ratemyprofessor.com played a part.
Boars to the flame: Yesterday morning, the PiPress reported that no big boars had been nominated for the State Fair. By day’s end, one was registered and several more are interested, Fox9’s Rob Olson reports.
Nort spews: A Twins off day, though the White Sox won, so Minnesota is now a game back in the Central. On a light sports-news day, we bring you the results of the St. Paul Saints’ presidential candidate bobblehead giveaway: Barack Obama 58 percent, John McCain 42 percent.