The Central Minnesota planning area is expected to experience continued 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 3.32 points in the most recent period, with three components producing positive readings. Increased St. Cloud area residential building permits contributed to this quarter’s rising LEI. In addition, an uptick in national durable goods orders and lower regional initial jobless claims also helped drive the index higher.
There were 1,331 new business filings with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State in Central Minnesota in the fourth quarter of 2017 — representing a 4 percent increase from one year ago. There were 136 new regional business incorporations in the fourth quarter, a 1.5 percent rise from year ago levels. New limited liability company (LLC) filings in Central Minnesota increased 10.1 percent relative to the fourth quarter of 2016. New assumed names totaled 326 over the recent quarter—a decrease of 7.1 percent compared to the same period in 2016. Current quarter new filings for Central Minnesota non-profit were 7.3 percent lower than one year ago.
Sixty-three percent of new business filers in the Central Minnesota planning area completed the voluntary Minnesota Business Snapshot (MBS) survey in this year’s fourth quarter. Results of this voluntary survey indicate that 4.9 percent of new filers come from communities of color. Approximately 7.8 percent of new filings were made by military veterans. About 2.5 percent of new filers come from the disability community and 4.2 percent of new filings were made by the immigrant community. Thirty-eight percent of new business filings in Central Minnesota in this year’s fourth 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 82 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 46 percent of those starting a new business consider this a part-time activity.
Central Minnesota employment was 3.3 percent higher in December 2017 than it was one year earlier and the December regional unemployment rate was 4.0%--much lower than one year ago. Initial claims for unemployment insurance were 9.3 percent lower in December than they were in the same month last year. The Central Minnesota labor force rose by 2.4 percent over the past year but the third quarter average weekly wage was lower than one year ago because of the way this statistic is calculated. Regional bankruptcies continue to decline.
Economic performance in the St. Cloud area was solid. The future outlook from a survey of St. Cloud area business leaders conducted quarterly by St. Cloud State University was generally improved from one year earlier. Total new business filings in the St. Cloud area were lower, although new incorporations and LLCs increased. Employment expanded, the unemployment rate fell, average hours worked rose, the average hourly wage increased, and initial jobless claims were lower.
Banaian, King and MacDonald, Richard A., "Central Minnesota Economic and Business Conditions Report - Fourth Quarter 2017" (2017). Central Minnesota Economic and Business Conditions Report. 16. http://repository.stcloudstate.edu/qebcr_c_mn/16