Central Minnesota business conditions are expected to soften over the next several months according to predictions of the Central Minnesota Index of Leading Economic Indicators (LEI). Four of the five components of the LEI turned negative in the first quarter with recent weakness in the St.Cloud area building permits driving the projected softening of the regional economy. Also causing a drag on the LEI is recent weakness in a general measure of state business conditions, higher initial jobless claims, and lower new business filing for incorporation at the end of last year. A fifth indicator--national durable goods orders--were largely neutral in the first quarter.
There were 1.478 new business filing with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State in Central Minnesota in the first quarter of 2015--representing a 1.9 percent increase from one year ago. There were 191 new regional business incorporations in the first quarter, a 7.9 percent increase from year ago levels. Over the past 12 months, new limited liability company (LLC) filing in Central Minnesota increased 3.6 percent--rising to 773 in this year's first quarter. New assumed names totaled 458 in this year's first three months--a reduction of 3.6 percent from the same period in 2014. There were 56 new filing for Central Minnesota non-profits in the first quarter--four more filing than on year ago.
Central Minnesota employment was 3.3 percent higher in March 2015 than it was one year earlier. Compared to one year ago, 11,775 more residents of Central Minnesota now have jobs. The regional unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in March, well below the 6.4 percent rate reported one year ago. Initial claims for unemployment insurance were 15.2 percent lower in April than they were on year earlier. The Central Minnesota labor force continues to grow (rising 2.2 percent over the past year) and job vacancies per 100 unemployed are higher than they have been in many years.
Economic performance in the St. Cloud area was mixed, with improvements in the labor market being offset by recent weakness in residential building permits and somewhat weaker results of a recent survey of area business leaders. New business filing remain strong in the largest market in the Central Minnesota planning area and growth is still expected to continue as the expansion matures.
Banaian, King and MacDonald, Richard A., "Central Minnesota Economic and Business Conditions Report - First Quarter 2015" (2015). Central Minnesota Economic and Business Conditions Report. 4.