The Central Minnesota planning area is expected to experience steady economic growth over the next several months according to predictions of the Central Minnesota Index of Leading Economic Indicators (LEI). The leading index rose by 2.03 points in the most recent period, with four components producing positive readings. Among other things, strength in a general measure of statewide business conditions and a small uptick in national durable goods orders helped lift the Central Minnesota planning area LEI in the first quarter.
There were 1,579 new business filings with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State in Central Minnesota in the first quarter of 2017 — representing a 3.3 percent increase from one year ago. There were 161 new regional business incorporations in the first quarter, an 11.5 percent reduction from year ago levels. New limited liability company (LLC) filings in Central Minnesota increased 6.9 percent relative to the first quarter of 2016. New assumed names totaled 463 over the recent quarter—an increase of 2 percent compared to the same period in 2016. Current quarter new filings for Central Minnesota non-profit were 7.5 percent higher than one year ago.
Sixty-eight percent of new business filers in the Central Minnesota planning area completed the voluntary Minnesota Business Snapshot (MBS) survey in this year’s first quarter. Results of this voluntary survey indicate that about 5 percent of new filers come from communities of color. A similar percentage are veterans. About 1 percent of new filers come from the disability community and more than 3 percent of new filings are made by the immigrant community. Forty-three percent of new business filings in Central Minnesota in this year’s first quarter were initiated by women. MBS results also show that most new business filers in Central Minnesota have between 0 and $10,000 in annual gross revenues (although 109 new filers have revenues in excess of $50,000). The most popular industries for new businesses in Central Minnesota are construction, retail trade, and other services. Employment levels at most new firms are between 0 and 5 workers, and 43 percent of those starting a new business consider this a part-time activity.
Central Minnesota employment was 0.4 percent higher in March 2017 than it was one year earlier and the March regional unemployment rate was 5.4%--slightly lower than one year ago. Initial claims for unemployment insurance were 11 percent higher in March than they were in the same month last year. The Central Minnesota labor force rose by 0.3 percent over the past year and the region’s job vacancies remain elevated. Regional bankruptcies continue to decline. Economic performance in the St. Cloud area was mostly favorable. The future outlook from a survey of St. Cloud area business leaders conducted quarterly by St. Cloud State University was primarily positive, with most components increasing from one year earlier. Three out of five measures of St. Cloud area new business filings rose, employment expanded, the unemployment rate fell, average hours worked and the average weekly wage each increased, and median home sales prices were up.
MacDonald, Richard A. and Banaian, King, "Central Minnesota Economic and Business Conditions Report - First Quarter 2017" (2017). Central Minnesota Economic and Business Conditions Report. 13.