Minnesota's manufacturing sector continues to expand, according to the latest Business Conditions Index report from Creighton University.
In December, Minnesota's index climbed to 56.9, up from 54.7 in November. A score above 50 indicates growth. December marked the 29th straight month that factories in the state signaled expansion.
Creighton University economics professor Ernie Goss is in charge of the survey, which coverage nine mostly Midwestern state. Goss says employment in the December survey reflected some plans for contraction. But he says that doesn't spell doom.
"Even though the employment numbers are the weakest component of the survey, the overall numbers -- new orders, production, inventory -- were pretty strong," said Goss. "And that's going to spill over into the non-manufacturing area, where we will see job additions."
Goss says supply managers in the region expect factory workers' wages to grow by about 1.6 percent in 2012. That's well below the 3 to 5 percent range Goss says would help the overall economy.
"Even though companies are increasing sales and they've increased profit margins, they just haven't been rewarding employees with higher wages," he said.
Goss says manufacturers in Minnesota are still trying to wring more out of their existing workforce by working them longer, but they'll soon have to ramp up hiring.
He expects overall employment in the state to grow 1.2 percent in 2012, below the 2 percent range that he says would be optimal.