The St. Cloud area economic outlook has been clouded by the announced future mass layoff of workers at the St. Cloud Electrolux plant. The planned closing of this manufacturing facility is estimated to cause a job loss of 860 workers by the end of 2019.
While respondents to the St. Cloud Area Business Outlook Survey express concern about the economic impact of the upcoming plant closing, the future outlook of surveyed businesses is strong as we enter a time of the year in which the area economy typically enjoys seasonal strength.
Revised employment data suggest the area labor market was not as strong as we originally indicated in the second half of 2017. For example, we initially reported year-over-year overall employment growth of l.6 percent in October 2017. This annualized employment growth was recently revised downward to 0.4 percent over this time period.
Among other things, the twelve-month growth in the mining/logging/construction sector was originally reported to be 9.2 percent in October 2017. This number is now reported to be only 0.5 percent over this same time period.
With the reminder that local employment data are subject to rather large annual revisions, we note that year-overyear overall employment growth slowed to 0.2 percent for the year ending January 2018. The manufacturing, education/health, wholesale trade, mining/logging/construction and government sectors led local job growth, while the retail trade, professional & business services, and leisure/hospitality sectors' employment contracted. The St. Cloud Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 0.3 percent over the last quarter.
Surveyed firms indicate strong expected future employment, increased future prices received, and considerable expected difficulty attracting qualified workers over the next six months.
Banaian, King and MacDonald, Richard A., "St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report Vol. 20, No. 1" (2018). St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report. 77.