Central Minnesota business conditions are expected to improve over the next several months according to the predictions of the St. Cloud State University (SCSU) Central Minnesota Index of Leading Economic Indicators. The leading economic indicator index (LEI) improved in the 2014 first quarter as strong growth in new residential building permits in the St. Cloud Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), along with gains in a general measure of state business conditions helped drive the LEI higher. The SCSU Central Minnesota Index of Leading Economic Indicators is now 7.9 percent higher than one year ago.
There were 1,450 new business filings with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State in Central Minnesota in the first quarter of 2014 — representing a 0.3 percent decline from one year ago. There were 177 new regional business incorporations in the first quarter, a 0.6 percent increase over year-ago levels. Over the past 12 months, new limited liability company (LLC) filings in Central Minnesota increased by 3.6 percent—rising to 746 in the first quarter of 2014. New assumed names totalled 475 in this year’s first quarter—a reduction of 3.7 percent from the first quarter of 2013. There were 52 new filings for Central Minnesota non-profits in the first quarter—13 fewer filings than one year ago.
Central Minnesota employment grew at a 1.8 percent seasonally adjusted annual rate over the 2014 first quarter. Nearly 7,000 more residents of Central Minnesota are now employed than one year ago. The seasonally-adjusted regional unemployment rate finished at 5.4 percent, its lowest rate since February 2008. Initial claims for unemployment insurance increased slightly from one year ago, although job vacancies continue to rise in Central Minnesota.
Data from the St. Cloud area showed strength in the largest market in the Central Minnesota planning area. Overall job growth was up 2.2 percent over the year ending March 2014. Surveyed businesses reported expectations of higher business activity, higher wages to be paid to workers, and more difficulty finding qualified workers. Sixty-five percent expect higher business activity over the next six months.
Banaian, King and MacDonald, Richard A., "Central Minnesota Economic and Business Conditions Report: First Quarter 2014" (2014). Central Minnesota Economic and Business Conditions Report. 1.