Various indicators suggest Central Minnesota business conditions will remain solid over the next several months. While the Central Minnesota Index of Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) declined slightly in the third quarter, the abundance of regional evidence points to continued economic strength. Making positive contributions to the LEI were new filings of incorporation in Central Minnesota, increased residential building permits in St. Cloud, and a rise in national durable goods orders. Recent weakness in a general measure of state business conditions and a rise in jobless claims had a negative effect on the LEI.
There were 1,217 new business filings with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State in Central Minnesota in the third quarter of 2014—representing a 5.4 percent decline from one year ago. There were 125 new regional business incorporations in the third quarter, an 8.8 percent reduction from year ago levels. Over the past 12 months, new limited liability company (LLC) filings in Central Minnesota increased by 2 percent—rising to 706 in the third quarter of 2014. New assumed names totaled 345 in this year’s third quarter—a reduction of 12.7 percent from the third quarter of 2013. There were 41 new filings for Central Minnesota non-profits in the third quarter—22 fewer filings than one year ago.
Central Minnesota employment was 1.4 percent higher in September 2014 than it was one year earlier. Compared to one year ago, 4,884 more residents of Central Minnesota now have jobs. The regional unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in September 2014, well below the 4.6 percent rate reported one year ago. Initial claims for unemployment insurance increased over the last three months, although October 2014 jobless claims were 27 percent lower than one year earlier. The Central Minnesota labor force continues to grow and job vacancies per 100 unemployed are higher than they have been in many years. Regional bankruptcies fell to an annual total of 2,053 in the second quarter. This is 14.3 percent lower than the annual total in last year’s second quarter.
Data from the St. Cloud area showed strength in the largest market in the Central Minnesota planning area. Overall job growth was up 2 percent over the year ending September 2014 and the St. Cloud unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent. St. Cloud area businesses remain concerned about worker shortages as a measure of expected future difficulty attracting qualified workers was 42 percent higher than one year ago.
MacDonald, Richard A. and Banaian, King, "Central Minnesota Economic and Business Conditions Report - Third Quarter 2014" (2015). Central Minnesota Economic and Business Conditions Report. 3.