Data analysis by Rich MacDonald and King Banaian suggests the St. Cloud area will experience solid but slower economic growth in coming months.
The School of Public Affairs Research Institute economists this week reported the lowest May reading of future business activity since 2011. Since March, Banaian and MacDonald have suggested the economic expansion may be maturing — a possible sign the business cycle may drift toward stagnation or contraction.
That finding and others are published in the St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report (QBR), Central Minnesota’s definitive, survey- and analysis-based review of economic activity. The QBR is published by Times Media, Greater St. Cloud Development Corp., and the School of Public Affairs Research Institute. MacDonald and Banaian are key faculty members in the Economics Department, whose notable alumni include James Bullard ’84, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Banaian is dean of the School of Public Affairs. MacDonald is interim director of the research institute.
Other QBR findings, including survey results from 69 businesses:
- Nearly 60 percent of area businesses surveyed predict a future increase in business activity.
- The national business activity reading is the lowest May reading since 2009.
- The St. Cloud Index of Leading Economic Indicators was flat, save for a small increase linked to increased filings for business incorporation.
- The April St. Cloud area unemployment rate was 3.8 percent, down from 4.3 percent a year ago.
- Healthcare and education sectors recorded 737 new jobs over the past year, an increase of 3.5 percent.
- Professional and business services employment decreased 9.1 percent.
The QBR’s special survey question revealed perceived barriers to immigrant employment:
- More than 38 percent of area business reported language concerns.
- Nearly 35 percent reported education/skills deficiencies.
- Cultural and work-ethic constraints came in at 14.7 percent.
St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report has been published four times a year since 1999. Visit The Repository for past issues.
MacDonald’s doctorate is from Binghamton University, State University of New York. Banaian holds a doctorate from Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, Calif.