The St. Cloud area economy remains in recession as the uneven effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to plague the local labor market. While some local sectors are experiencing uninterrupted strong growth, the virus’ impact on the leisure/hospitality and other services sectors is creating historic existential challenges for some area firms. Overall local employment was 3.4 percent lower in October 2020 than it was one year earlier, but this is a clear improvement from what was seen in the June St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report (at which time an 11.5 percent year-over-year decline in area employment was reported). The St. Cloud Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose marginally over the past quarter, but was 3.5% higher over the last year. Current business activity at surveyed firms was weaker than usual as was their future outlook, although, on balance, area firms still expect improved business conditions over the next six months. In special questions, business leaders identify COVID-19 relief as the most important issue for the upcoming legislative session in St. Paul. Tax burden, job creation, and health care reform also rank high on firms’ list of legislative concerns. In a separate question, most firms report dedicating less than 5 percent of their spending on capital improvements meant to combat COVID-19.
Banaian, King and MacDonald, Richard, "St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report, Vol. 22, No. 4" (2020). St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report. 88.