The majority of Minnesota is expected to experience strong economic growth during the next several months, according to new economic reviews and forecasts released Monday by Secretary of State Steve Simon and the St. Cloud State University School of Public Affairs Research Institute.

The 2016 fourth quarter Minnesota Regional Economic and Business Conditions Reports show five of six planning areas, including northeastern Minnesota, experiencing strong and steady growth in the coming months. Only the southwest planning area is expected to see somewhat slower economic growth. 

Across the state’s six planning areas, there was an increase in average weekly wages as tight labor market conditions collided with a declining labor force. The unemployment rate increased in five of six planning areas. Business filings also increased in five of the six planning areas statewide. 

The reports were developed by the St. Cloud State University School of Public Affairs Research Institute, as part of their ongoing partnership with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. The economic reviews and forecasts are based on a comprehensive examination of several datasets, including business filings.

“Labor force figures have declined in the fourth quarter, and labor shortages are appearing in many parts of the state causing higher wages,” said King Banaian, report co-author and dean of the School of Public Affairs at St. Cloud State University. “Rural Minnesota has been challenged with lower agricultural exports in 2016, but this could reverse this year.”  

Economic conditions in Northeastern Minnesota are expected to accelerate over the next several months, according to a variety of economic indicators. The Northeast Minnesota leading economic indicators increased by 8.23 points in the fourth quarter, with three of the five components experiencing an increase. 

There were 496 new business filings with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State in Northeast Minnesota in the fourth quarter of 2016 — representing a 1.8 percent increase from one year ago.

Employment was 2.7 percent lower than year ago levels in December. The regional unemployment rate was 6.3 percent, which was unchanged from one year ago.