Central Minnesota business conditions should remain strong through the first several months of 2015 according to predictions of the Central Minnesota Leading Economic Indicators Index. While three components of the index declined over the last three months of 2014, a strong reading on residential building permits helped propel the index to a 7.90 point gain in the last quarter of 2014. The index was 41 percent higher than one year earlier. A rise in national durable goods orders also contributed favorably to the outlook, while 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 1,192 new business filing with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State in Central Minnesota in the fourth quarter of 2014--represent a 0.6 percent decline from one year earlier. There were 154 new regional business incorporations in the fourth quarter, a 17.6 percent increase from year earlier levels. Fourth quarter new limited liability company (LLC) filings in Central Minnesota increased by 3.6 percent--rising to 688. New assumed names totaled 306 in the fourth quarter--a reduction of 12.8 percent from the third quarter of 2013. There were 44 new filings for Central Minnesota non-profits in the fourth quarter--9 fewer filings than one year earlier.
Central Minnesota employment was 1.6 percent higher in December 2014 than it was one year earlier. Compared to one year earlier, 5,871 more residents of Central Minnesota has jobs at the end of 2014. The regional unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in December 2014, well below the 5.1 percent rate reported one year earlier. The Central Minnesota labor force continued to grow in 2014 and average weekly wages were higher.
Data from the St. Cloud area showed strength in the largest markets in the Central Minnesota planning area. Overall job growth was up 1.6 percent over the year ending December 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 as 13 percent higher than one year earlier. St. Cloud area business filing increased, unemployment claims fell, and median home sales prices rose in December 2014.
Banaian, King and MacDonald, Richard A., "Central Minnesota Economic and Business Conditions Report - Fourth Quarter 2014" (2015). Central Minnesota Economic and Business Conditions Report. 5.