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Michael Porter was in the Twin Cities on Monday talking about regional clusters, American stagnation and the country's failed economic development efforts.

He was helping roll out Cluster Mapping, which he, the U.S. Department of Commerce and many others hope will be a tool for better economic development policy. I wrote a story for the print edition, and here's the U of M's Lee Munnich's op-ed.

For the purposes of this blog, here are five takeaways from Porter's presentation, and from the data:

1. Most Americans are struggling in the economy and it's not because of the recession.

Porter, in his speech earlier today at the Humphrey School, said this:

The problem is that wages are drying up for middle-skill jobs. Very high-skill jobs are doing better, but wages for jobs that require a college degree or less are either stagnant or sinking in the past 12 years. Porter showed this slide:

2. It's a knotty problem, causing the rise of inequality and driven by a lot of forces, but Washington is not helping.


3. Porter believes the key to higher-wage jobs is for regions in the U.S. to build clusters of companies that sell in the global marketplace and win there.

These clusters are in what he calls the "traded" economy -- that is, the global economy. The "local" economy provides all the jobs that pretty much every community has no matter what -- jobs at restaurants, doctor's offices, gas stations, etc. For now, the U.S. is not doing well in the traded economy, Porter said:

4. Minnesota has a big medical device concentration, but it also has clusters in marketing, IT, financial services and insurance.

This is from the mapping tool, which I highly recommend, and refers to the Minneapolis economic area, which includes St. Cloud, much of southern Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin and even South Dakota:

5. Minnesota ranks well in labor productivity and business creation, and really well in patent generation, but is lagging in exports.

We talked last week about how the U.S. is getting whipped by China in Africa, and I had a story about Minnesota exports to Africa, which are growing fast but from a small base. It looks like exports as a percent of GDP are relatively low for this region.

From the data tool:

Lots more data where that came from. The tool is easy to use and allows you to download the data on any report you create.