Crunching the Most Current Numbers on Taxes and Employment


Some interesting local and regional numbers are in on leading indicators on how well (or not so well) our economy is doing. Let’s crunch them and see what they say.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics released November numbers for several of the larger metropolitan areas in our region. Here are the numbers:

                Oct 2008         Oct 2009        Nov2008        Nov 2009
Duluth           5.7%              7.6%             6.6%             7.8%
Mankato        4.2%               5.9%            4.5%             5.7%
Mpls/St.        5.1%               7.2%            5.6%              7.0%
Roch.            4.3%              5.7%             4.6%             5.6%
St. Cloud       5.0%              6.7%             5.9%             6.8%
Bismarck       2.2%               2.8%            2.7%              3.4%
Fargo/Mo      2.4%               3.5%            2.7%              3.7%
Gr.Fks          2.8%               3.5%            3.2%              3.7%

Mankato, the Twin Cities and Rochester all saw improvement in the past month from their October 2009 numbers. Bismarck is seeing the effects of the shutdown of the Bobcat manufacturing plant this fall, affecting the usually stable unemployment picture in that highly government centered capital city. State Average unemployment rate for Nov. 2009 is 7.4%

Looking locally at the Micropolitan areas in Minnesota here are the numbers.

Bemidji Nov. 2009 7.4%
Brainerd               9.6%
Fergus Falls           6.9%
Willmar                5.7%
Hutchinson            8.2%
Alexandria             5.7%
Owatonna             7.1%

All Micropolitan areas had an increase from their Oct. 2009 numbers except Willmar, Owatonna, and Hutchinson. Hutchinson Technology has had a devastating effect on that town. Bemidji’s 7.4% is right with the rest of the state and is actually the same as Nov. 2008 figures. Obviously outstate Minnesota is still feeling a lot of pain.

Sales tax revenues are sometimes an indicator of the retail climate of an area. Bemidji’s .5% sales tax numbers have just been released thru October 2009. October’s sales tax collected increased 18%…to go along with Sept. 2009 +20% increase and August’s increase of 3.3%. YTD sales tax revenues in the City of Bemidji is up +3.3%. Certainly the August thru October numbers are partially a reflection of the millions of dollars being purchased as part of the Enbridge Pipeline project. Certainly good news for the City.

Finally….a few notes on new creative taxation. Remember the City of Bemidji attempting the street light fee? As mentioned in an earlier blog…almost 30 cities have attempted or passed some lighting fee in the State of Minnesota. WCCO television in Minneapolis reports the City of Minneapolis has “quietly” started a $130 permit fee assessed to restaurants for cleaning their exhaust hoods in their kitchens. No establishments were notified of the new fee. Many restaurants have their exhaust vents cleaned monthly. Money is going to fund the fire inspection programs for the city.

With the recent snowfall in the city, I am surprised the City of Bemidji does not actively pursue some sort of winter snow emergency program for tagging and towing vehicles during plowing. Certainly Minneapolis and St. Paul actively pursue this and I am sure it is a pretty good revenue stream. This is no longer a “big city” program with most suburbs and many intermediate size cities implementing it. Maybe towing and ticketing fees can be used towards street maintenance? I heard last year our council was putting “everything on the table”. It makes as much sense to me as trying to pursue the lighting fee.

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