Area firms reported strong economic conditions over the past three months as local employment grew at a 1.9 percent rate over the year ending July 2018. Results of the St. Cloud Area Business Outlook Survey indicate strong current business activity by area firms despite historic difficulty finding qualified workers. The six-month ahead future business activity outlook was weaker for surveyed firms as 30 percent offirms expect decreased business activity by February 2019. As the future closure of Electrolux approaches and the impact of national tariffs begins to be felt, the area economy is entering a period of heightened uncertainty that clouds the future outlook for many area firms. The manufacturing, education/ health, wholesale trade, transportation/warehousing/utilities and construction sectors of the regional economy showed strong job growth over the past year, while employment contracted in the retail trade, professional and business services and financial activities sectors. The new St. Cloud Index of Leading Economic Indicators fell from its elevated level last quarter, but remained 12 percent higher than its reading of one year ago. Area firms report increased prices received - a trend that has been observed throughout 2018. Survey responses indicate area firms are experiencing a relatively less favorable impact from national economic policies than was initially anticipated when the administration entered the White House at the beginning of 2017.
Banaian, King and MacDonald, Richard A., "St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report Vol. 20 No. 3" (2018). St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report. 79.