News Release

Economic outlook bright

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rich MacDonald, economics professor and co-author of the St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report

Rich MacDonald, economics professor and co-author of the St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report.

King Banaian, economics professor and co-author of the St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report Rich MacDonald, economics professor and co-author of the St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report 

Nearly three in four area businesses surveyed say they expect increased business activity in six months' time. And, the St. Cloud Index of Leading Economic Indicators has hit an historic high.

These and other findings by the St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report suggest favorable economic conditions and a continuation of the region's economic expansion, according to St. Cloud State economics professors Rich MacDonald and King Banaian, authors of the report (PDF).

Among 75 area businesses surveyed, 5.3 percent expect a decrease in business activity in six months, while 73 percent expect an increase and 20 percent expect no change, according to the report. 

The survey is also upbeat on current business activity. Banaian and MacDonald write: "Most of the February 2013 current activity survey numbers are well above the normal readings for this time of the year." 

The index of leading economic indicators "is up 9.5 percent from January 2012 to January 2013. This series has substantial monthly fluctuations, but its six-month moving average is currently at the highest point in its 14-year history," according to MacDonald and Banaian.   

Index highlights include increased help-wanted advertising in the St. Cloud Times, more hours worked and a decline in new claims for unemployment insurance. According to the report: The St. Cloud area is within 1,000 workers of reaching its highest payroll levels, set in the mid-2000s. 

More specifically, the index of leading economic indicators is higher now than in 2007, before the Great Recession. 

The St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report has been conducted every three months since December 1998. View an executive summary, employment figures, survey responses to Gov. Mark Dayton's tax proposals and more in the five-page report.   

Central Minnesota's definitive, survey-based analysis of economic activity is published by Times Media, Greater St. Cloud Development Corp., and these St. Cloud State entities: Center for Economic Education, Department of Economics and the School of Public Affairs.

Read a feature story about report authors MacDonald and Banaian. MacDonald's doctorate is from Binghamton University, State University of New York. Banaian holds a doctorate from Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, Calif.     

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