Johnson: Country strong, but facing tough economic conditions

The state of Hennepin County may be sound, but rumblings of an economic perfect storm spell a cloudy economic forecast.

During his annual State of the County speech April 10, Hennepin County Board Chair Randy Johnson said that recession and retirees are subjects that should be closely studied in the future.

“We need to examine our standards for success, and appreciate that, frankly, good enough is sometimes the right approach when staff or funding are severely limited," Johnson said.

Johnson cited a "perfect storm" of recession, inflation, higher unemployment, and a 240-percent rise in home foreclosures since 2005 as tough circumstances that will test the region.

Johnson also noted the county’s aging population.

The number of elderly citizens is expected to double by 2030, which will "significantly affect publicly-funded health and long-term care programs," according to the speech.

Johnson addressed the potential brain drain of county workers, saying an estimated 18 percent of county employees are eligible to retire in the next four years.

Hennepin County has also maintained their AAA credit rating rating for the 33rd straight year, placing it well within in the top 1 percent nationally.

Johnson also noted that 70 percent of new immigrants live in Hennepin County, and about 10 percent of county residents are foriegn-born. He went on to reaffirm the county’s commitment to “Heading Home Hennepin,” a plan to end homelessness in the county by 2016.