Thursday, December 31, 2009

New QBR is up 

Here's the short summary of our latest report:
Despite continued weakness in the regional labor market, St. Cloud-area firms are finally beginning to expect an improved future economic outlook. While it is still too early to declare that the local recession has ended, this improved outlook does suggest that 2010 will be a year of recovery and expansion for area firms.

The area economy appears to be following the path of national economic activity. A large majority of economists agree that the national economy emerged from recession at some point in the second half of 2009. While national labor market conditions remain weak, U.S. production, income and sales data indicate a national recovery has begun. While the lags on the availability of data on local income, sales and output are long, the results of this quarter�s St. Cloud Area Business Outlook Survey provide some evidence that area firms will begin to enjoy this recovery by the middle of 2010. For example, the outlook for future business activity is the highest it has been in the fall survey since fall 2006.

Local labor market conditions remain weak. St. Cloud employment declined by 3.4 percent over the year ending October 2009 as only the leisure and hospitality
sector experienced employment growth over this period. The St. Cloud Index of Leading Economic Indicators continued to slide, though at a slower rate. The latest reading of the Probability of Recession Index predicts that it is 73 percent likely the local economy will be in recession in February to April 2010.

Thirty-four percent of surveyed firms report an increase in economic activity over the past three months, while 25 percent report a decrease. This is a large improvement over the survey from one year ago...
Full report available from here.

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