Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Four thousand fewer jobs, but Minnesota unemployment rate drops

Mortgage delinquencies plunge; Southwest Minnesota water holdup; warm Target kisses; and more.

The Business Journal’s Jim Hammerand reports Minnesota lost 4,200 jobs in April, though unemployment fell a tenth of a point to 4.7 percent. Construction and business services took the brunt of the losses, while manufacturing and government were up. Overall, the state has gained nearly 42,000 jobs in the past year.

At least mortgage delinquencies are down, the Strib’s Jim Buchta notes. Minnesota’s tardy rate is the nation’s 44th-lowest (that’s good). One in 30 mortgages are late. The rate excludes foreclosures, whose rate is also falling.

MPR’s Tim Pugmire updates the big bonding-bill holdup: that $70 million southwest Minnesota water-treatment project. DFLers in control of the legislature only funded it to $22 million, setting off GOP protest howls. A new deal could work a la the Mayo expansion — state funds and local sales or property taxes.

Strib business columnist Lee Schafer gives Target exec Jeff Jones a warm if not wet kiss for his response to that Gawker-posted complaint from an employee. Writes Schafer, “… this post, published late Tuesday on the personal LinkedIn page of Target Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Jones, was easily the best communication that’s come from Target in months. … Everyone has to perform better, and the enemies are ‘apathy and indifference.’ Jones only hints at this, but it’s a point other executives have made when faced with more than the usual set of challenges.”

Article continues after advertisement

Really … it was worse. In the Minnesota Farm Guide, Andrea Johnson writes, “At the Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca, the air temperature averaged 47.4 degrees for May 1-7, 2014. That was 7.1 degrees cooler than normal, but much better than one year earlier. ‘Last year, this week was miserable with temperatures averaging 43.9 degrees — precipitation totaled 2.1 inches, including 9.9 inches of snow … ,’ reported Tom Hoverstad, University of Minnesota scientist.” Thanks, I feel a lot better.

Are there Hotwire packages for a romantic Mogadishu weekend? At MPR, Jon Collins says, “Extremist group al-Shabab released a video in English this week that calls for supporters to carry out a ‘lone-wolf mission’ of terrorism or travel to Somalia to join the group. The video closes with a mock-up of an airplane boarding pass showing Minnesota as the point of origin and the slogan, ‘Next flight to Mogadishu the only one missing is you.’”

At the Verge Sean Hollister looks at our first-in-the-nation “kill switch” legislation for cellphones and sniffs, “Strangely, the actual text of Minnesota’s ‘kill switch’ bill doesn’t actually require a kill switch at all. The letter of the law simply states that phones be ‘equipped with preloaded anti-theft functionality or be capable of downloading that functionality,’ without specifying what ‘anti-theft’ means or what sorts of protections the software might actually offer. However, that might be a moot point: nearly every major player in the smartphone industry has already promised to offer remote lock and remote wipe functionality by next July.” Yeah, OK but still … we were first!

In the on-going struggle for transparency … . Mark Sommerhauser of the St. Cloud Times writes, “Time is running short for a bill that would close a legal loophole that allows Minnesota lawmakers and other public officials to shield income from independent contracting work from public view. … St. Cloud-area representatives joined the majority of Republicans in opposing the bill, except Rep. Zachary Dorholt, DFL-St. Cloud, who voted for it, and Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, who did not vote.” Check out our morning story on the issue here.

At The Street Jonathan Marino reports, “One month after the Milwaukee Bucks fetched a record price for a National Basketball Association franchise, ownership of the Minnesota Timberwolves is considering various strategic options for the team, according to sources. Less than two years after his attempt to sell the franchise foundered, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has received renewed bidder interest, sources said. One source said the Timberwolves were approached earlier this month by an investor consortium looking to buy the franchise outright.”

The City Pages cover story, on the “Lord and Lady” who ripped off the welfare system (and relatives and investors) to finance their ludicrous lifestyle is really worth your time. Jesse Marx and Allie Conti write, “Colin conceded that he might be a ‘sinner,’ but professed that he was innocent of the present charges. He asked for refuge and concluded by appealing on religious grounds. ‘You know how to help us or direct us, thank God.’” When cornered, always invoke your proximity to the lord.