Minnesota News Briefs: Poverty rate in Minnesota dropsMinnesota News
-- There's relatively good news out of Washington -- and better news for Minnesota.
WASHINGTON D.C - There's relatively good news out of Washington -- and better news for Minnesota.
According to the latest U.S. Census, Minnesota's poverty rate dropped to ten-percent in 2011 while household incomes rose by more than 35-hundred-dollars. The national poverty rate stayed unchanged at around 15-percent however overall hosuehold incomes dropped one-point-five-percent to just over $50,000. The poverty line is around $23,000 for a family of four. And added note from the survey: 9.2 percent of Minnesotans are uninsured.
The Federal Reserve could announce a third round of what's called "quantitative easing" today in an effort to lower interest rates and stimulate the economy. It's a move the Fed has made twice since the recession began. But St. John's (Minn.) University Economics Professor Louis Johnston says there's a twist: He says usually the Fed has bought U.S. government securities but some are speculating that this time they might buy things like mortgage-back securities, corporate bonds or other items from the private sector. Johnston says while the move won't lower interest rates significantly, it will send a signal that the Fed stands ready to do what is necessary if things get worse.
Minnesota's housing market is not out of the woods yet when it comes to foreclosures. The number of foreclosure starts increased 42-percent from August of 2011 to August 2012. RealtyTrac's Daren Blomquist says those are properties just beginning the foreclosure process -- and that's not a good sign going forward. Blomquist says foreclosure starts have increased for five straight months in Minnesota. The number of foreclosed properties in the state rose 11-percent from July to August.
A southern Minnesota man died on Tuesday after getting trapped in a grain bin. Reports say rescuers cut holes in the bin to let the corn out but by the time they got to 19-year-old Jared Weckwerth, he was already dead. The accident happened near Janesville in Waseca County.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for state flood assistance from farmers in 15 counties severely impacted by record rainfall and flooding in June. MDA spokesman Michael Schommer says right now they cannot estimate the level of reimbursement for individual applicants. Schommer says they're hopeful they will be able to help farmers move toward recovery, but due to the limited funds and the uncertainty about the number of applications they can't give a firm number. The application form can be found online at MDA. state.mn.us.
Nearly three months after historic flooding along the North Shore, repairs are being finished along a stretch of Highway-61 between Duluth and Two Harbors. MnDOT says drivers should watch out for single-lane restrictions on the highway from now through the middle of November. The repairs are being made at more than 40 locations.
There was some early frost for folks waking up in the Red River Valley this morning Forecasters have a frost advisory in the area from the Canadian border all the way to the Breckenridge area. They also think this time tomorrow, the Arrowhead could see some patchy frost.
A move eastward for a former U-of-M official. Robert Jones, who served for eight years as vice-president of academic administration at the U in the Twin Cities has accepted the position of president of State University of New York at Albany. The 61-year-old Jones, who is also a crop scientist and singer in a Grammy Award-winning soul choir, begins his new position at SUNY-Albany on January 2nd.
A Minnesota truck driver has been identified one of the victims in a horrifying crash in southwestern Nebraska on Sunday. Reports say 27-year old Keith Johnson of Big Lake died in the chain reaction crash involving his truck and another semi, along with two other cars. The crash killed a Maryland husband, his pregnant wife and two children. Interstate-80 was closed for nearly 15-hours after the crash. Witnesses say the other truck driver, who was uninjured, plowed into a car which started the chain reaction of crashes. He now faces four charges of manslaughter and vehicular homicide.
Dozens of steel workers remain in limbo on the Iron Range after recent layoffs at the Essar taconite pellet plant. Construction at the site has slowed due to a drop in demand for steel and iron ore. The one-point-seven-billion-dollar plant is about half-finished and officials hope to start mining in Nashwauk by the start of next year. There's no timetable on how long before the Essar workers return.
Governor Dayton announced today how $47 million dollars in the bonding bill will be parceled out, with dozens of Minnesota communities competing for the public works funding. The Dayton administration makes the call, but here's how some notable projects were ranked going into the final round: Two-and-a-half million dollars for wastewater infrastructure improvements in Litchfield received the highest score of any project -- 99 out of 100 points -- and a similar request from Hector also scored high. Duluth's 10-million-dollar project for downtown development and a parking ramp got 92 out of 100 points. Perhaps the highest-visibility project, Saint Paul's $27-million request for a new Saints ballpark, received a lower score, 77 points out of a possible 100. Also, upgrades for the civic centers in Rochester, Saint Cloud and Mankato received somewhat lower scores than that. We'll find out who's in and who's out later this morning.
Home foreclosures in Minnesota increased nearly 11-percent between July and August to more than 25-hundred properties. And foreclosure starts have risen 42 percent over the past year. RealtyTrac's Daren Blomquist says lender paperwork delays caused artificially-low foreclosure numbers the past two years. He says the result will be more short sales and bank-owned properties on the market. Foreclosures are up five percent from August of last year.