Southwest Minnesota business conditions are expected to improve over the next several months according to the predictions of the St. Cloud State University (SCSU) Southwest Minnesota Index of Leading Economic Indicators. With a significant reduction in initial jobless claims and continued increases in new business incorporations and limited liability companies (LLC), the Southwest Minnesota economy appears headed for a strong growth trajectory through the summer months. The SCSU Southwest Minnesota Index of Leading Economic Indicators is now 1.8 percent higher than one year ago.
There were 660 new business filings with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State in Southwest Minnesota in the first quarter of 2014 — representing a 6.8 percent increase from one year ago. There were 59 new regional business incorporations in the first quarter, a 7.8 percent decrease over a year ago. Over the past 12 months, new LLC filings in Southwest Minnesota increased by 5.1 percent — rising to 352 in the first quarter of 2014. New assumed names totaled 213 in this year’s first quarter — a 12.1 percent jump from first quarter 2013. There were seven new filings for Southwest Minnesota non-profits in the first quarter—the same number as one year ago.
Employment of Southwest Minnesota residents increased by 1.5 percent over the year ending March 2014. More than three thousand more Southwestern Minnesotans are now employed than one year ago. The regional unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in March, an improvement on its 5.6 percent reading one year ago. Initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased from year-ago levels and are the lowest they have been for several months. Significant job vacancies exist in Southwest Minnesota with more than one vacancy for every two people unemployed in this region of Minnesota.
Data from the Mankato/North Mankato area — the largest market in Southwest Minnesota — were very strong in the first quarter. With strong employment growth, increases in business filings in five separate categories, a declining unemployment rate, a decrease in the cost of living, and an acceleration of residential building permits, the Mankato/ North Mankato Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) provided a strong lift to the Southwest Minnesota regional economy.
Banaian, King and MacDonald, Richard A., "Southwest Minnesota Economic and Business Conditions Report: First Quarter 2014" (2014). Southwest Minnesota Economic and Business Conditions Report. 1.