MINNEAPOLIS (AP) â¿¿ The Twin Cities economy is faring better than the other major metropolitan areas in the Midwest, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

"We're showing improvement that's somewhat stronger than the nation as a whole," said Steve Hine, labor market economist at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. "We've got a somewhat higher concentration of higher-skilled employment, and that's also been a source of some of our strength and would translate into more rapid GDP growth."

Minneapolis-St. Paul's economic output grew 1.5 percent between 2008 and 2011, while Chicago, Detroit and most of the region's other big cities lost ground, according to the data.

The $207.8 billion economy of the Twin Cities accounts for about three-quarters of Minnesota's economic output. Before the downturn from 2001 to 2007, the area's economy grew at an average rate of 1.9 percent, a pace of growth to which it returned in 2011, according to the Star Tribune (http://bit.ly/YJAFaU ).

The unemployment in Minneapolis-St. Paul is at 5.1 percent, compared with a national average of 7.9 percent.

Of major cities from Cleveland to Kansas City, only Milwaukee and the Twin Cities recovered the economic activity they lost in the downturn. Milwaukee's output grew 0.4 percent.

The Twin Cities benefits from the relatively high proportion of better paying jobs at big companies like 3M and Medtronic. For instance, if companies in each of three cities were to all add one employee, the city where the highest-paid workers are hired will see more economic growth than the others, Hine said.


Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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