Economist speaks at agricultural discussion

The state economist spoke about how a lull in the state economy is hurting industries across Minnesota.

by Kelly Gulbrandson

Students looking for a good job after graduation could be faced with a weak economy and a competitive job market – unless they head out to the country, perhaps.

Applied economics professor and State Economist Tom Stinson spoke Wednesday at the Twin Cities agricultural issues roundtable in Minneapolis about how a lull in the state economy is hurting industries across Minnesota and the country. He said the current state of the economy will have long-term effects.

While housing and the wood product industries have dragged down the state’s economy, Stinson said it’s not all bad news. Stinson said while the U.S. dollar is weak, exports will continue to increase, which will create more jobs for people in the exports industry – offsetting some of the negative news.

Stinson said more good news has come from the farming, fishing and forestry industries, where jobs are expected to increase in the state by 1.6 percent, from 3,488 to 3,545 from 2007 to 2008, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

H.R. 5140, the economic stimulus package signed by President George W. Bush on Wednesday after Congress passed it last week, could also help the economy, Stinson said.

“I was actually a little skeptical that it would get it done in time to have any impact,” he said, “But they did.”

Stinson said if all recipients spend the rebate, which he said isn’t expected, it would raise the Gross Domestic Product by more than 3 percent by September. It would also increase job growth by 0.4 percent, he said.

Despite the economic stimulus, Stinson said some job areas in the state will struggle in the next 10 years.

According to the Minnesota State Demographic Center, the number of jobs will decrease by more than 29,000 for the 15-to-19 age group and by more than 9,000 for the 20-to-24 age group.

Stinson said the increased competition of college graduates entering the job market could have a negative effect on the state’s economy for years to come.

Agriculture business junior Jamie Seitzer attended the speech because the topic sounded interesting. He said the recent news of the slowing economy and Macy’s decision last week to cut jobs were a few reasons why he came.

“I didn’t know that graduation rates and college students were a factor on the economy,” he said.