The area that is now Minnesota was an important hunting ground for French, and later British, fur trappers. White American settlers began to arrive in the early 19th century, eager to exploit the area’s agricultural and forest lands. In the 1880s large-scale iron-ore mining was begun. By the end of the 19th century, wheat farming, which had been the main agricultural activity, was being replaced by corn and dairy farming. The importance of Minnesota as an agricultural producer continues to this day. The North Country continues to furnish vast forest and mineral wealth, and income from the many tourists who visit the state adds significantly to the economy. Manufacturing, which largely uses the resources of the region, has grown to be an important sector of the state economy as well.
Cooperatives, which are organizations that sponsor cooperative buying and selling, particularly for farmers, have long played an important role in Minnesota’s economic life. Originally sponsored mostly by immigrants from Finland and Denmark who were familiar with these institutions in their former homelands, the cooperatives quickly spread throughout the state. Minnesota has more consumer, producer, and business service cooperatives than any other state in the Union.
The largest and most important type of producer cooperatives are creameries for marketing milk, butter, cheese, and other dairy products. Consumer cooperatives sell seed, fertilizers, machinery, and general merchandise to farmers.
Other types of consumer cooperatives found in Minnesota include oil distributors, food markets, mutual insurance companies, rural electric companies, credit unions, and trucking associations.
Minnesota had a labor force numbering 2,773,000 in 2008. The largest share of those, 36 percent, were employed in the diverse services sector, which includes hospital and restaurant jobs. Some 19 percent worked in wholesale or retail trade; 12 percent in manufacturing; 15 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those in the military; 18 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 19 percent in transportation or public utilities; 4 percent in construction; 4 percent in farming (including agricultural services), forestry, or fishing; and only 0.2 percent in mining. In 2007, 16 percent of Minnesota’s workers were members of labor unions. "Minnesota" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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