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Research Study

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Business conditions in Northeast Minnesota are expected to be steady over the next several months according to the predictions of the Northeast Minnesota Index of Leading Economic Indicators (LEI). While three of the five components of the LEI decreased in this year’s third quarter, the overall index turned only slightly negative following a strong reading three months ago. A decline in initial jobless claims in the region and a large increase in filings for new business incorporation contributed favorably to this quarter’s LEI. Lower residential building permits in the Duluth/Superior area, weakening of a general measure of state business conditions, and a decline in a supply managers’ survey index served as a drag on the leading index in the third quarter.

There were 467 new business filings with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State in Northeast Minnesota in the third quarter of 2015 — representing a 1.1 percent decrease from one year ago. Forty-two new regional business incorporations were filed in the third quarter, representing a 17.9 percent improvement from 2014. New limited liability company (LLC) filings in Northeast Minnesota were essentially unchanged at 245. New assumed names totaled 159 in this year’s third quarter—a 3 percent decrease from the third quarter of 2014. There were 17 new filings for Northeast Minnesota non-profit in the 2015 third quarter—eight fewer than one year earlier.

Northeast Minnesota employment was 0.3 percent lower than year earlier levels in September. The regional unemployment rate increased to 4.6 percent (it was 4.3 percent in September 2014) and the labor force contracted by 0.1 percent. The regional labor force is now 4,662 lower than in September 2010. September 2015 initial claims for unemployment insurance were 91 lower than the year earlier (a 9 percent decrease) and job vacancies declined precipitously in the second quarter of the year. There are now 69.79 regional job vacancies per 100 unemployed— considerably lower than the 121.47 figure reported in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Economic performance in the Duluth/Superior Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was mixed. Northeast Minnesota’s largest market experienced a 0.7 percent rise in overall employment over the year ending September 2015, and the key education/health sector added jobs. The length of the workweek also rose. However, average hourly earnings fell, the area unemployment rate rose and the labor force decreased. The value of residential building permits was 70.9 percent lower in September than one year earlier.



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