Minnesota’s real economy

A new study will provide a realistic look at how the state stacks up.

Minnesotans who believe their economy is performing well above the national average are likely to be surprised by a study commissioned by Center of the American Experiment intended to provide a more realistic understanding of how the state’s economy stacks up.

The paper, scheduled to released at the end of the first quarter of 2016, will represent the first comprehensive project undertaken under John Hinderaker, the Center’s new president.

“Over the last 10 years, Minnesota ranks only 30th in percentage job growth and 32nd in personal income growth,” he says. “The truth is that while Minnesotans have inherited a strong and diverse economy, Minnesota can—and must— do better than the state’s current performance.”

Hinderaker says the study will be “largely descriptive,” but will also address the impact of public policy— high taxes, regulation and so on—on Minnesota’s economic performance, compared with similar states. It will emphasize trends and data that are particularly relevant to Minnesota’s future, such as the relative lack of business startups and of innovative, high-tech businesses, he said.

The paper will be supplemented by an ambitious program of public outreach that will include events, town meetings and op/eds in regional markets statewide, according to Hinderaker. “We intend to bring this information to millions, not thousands, of Minnesotans,” he says. Other activities will include aggressive social media strategies and possibly advertising.

“Our objective is to bring a realistic view of Minnesota’s economy to many, many Minnesotans in order to provoke an ongoing discussion about how our state can do better,” Hinderaker says.

The study will be written by Joe Kennedy, a Washington, D.C.-based economist who served as chief economist for the U.S. Department of Commerce under President George W. Bush. Kennedy has deep experience providing economic advice to senior officials in the public and private sector, much of it directed at how social policies involving technology, competitiveness, and the social contract. He has held numerous other positions in government, serving on committees in both Houses of Congress and in the executive branch. As senior counsel for the Senate Permanent Subcommittee
on Investigations he helped oversee investigations of the credit counseling industry, music downloading, and the U.N. Oil for Food Program. As senior economist for the Joint Economic Committee of Congress he authored papers on telecommunications policy and nanotechnology. And as a Senior Officer at the Pew Charitable Trusts he started and oversaw the Financial Reform Project.

Kennedy is also an attorney. He received his Ph.D. and J.D. from the University of Minnesota.