Duluth, MN (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- The number of building permits in Duluth has skyrocketed in 2012 to four times what it was in March of 2011.
Northland economists are exited, saying these numbers are an example of an upswing in the Duluth economy while commercial builders are remaining cautious.
The waning months of winter and the birth of spring in 2012 has brought with it a jump in the number of commercial building permits.
In March of 2011, the city of Duluth had issued 7 permits, fast forward to 2012 that number is 29.
The year to date numbers are intriguing as well with 2012 seeing three times the number of permits issued in 2011.
Economists take these numbers as a sign of a solid recovery.
"Typically when you see an increase of permits, residential or non residential, it's the beginning of a new business cycle so the economy is starting to pick up and show some economic expansion"
It might not be showing immediate expansion but economist say it'son the horizon.
"If you think about the number of building permits as a signal of how the economy is going to do in the future that's what it is. It considered by economists as a leading indicator"
But northland builders are showing cautious optimism.
"Everybody that I talk to is short of work, has some work but maybe not as much as they have had in the past"
But Chan and Simkins both agree that there is more confidence in the Duluth market this year.
"I think there is a shared sense of optimism that this season looks to be the beginning of a year that has more people wanting to do projects"
"Growing strong consumer confidence is a crucial way to get the economy out of the recession and into full recovery"
They also both agree that it's going to be a few months until the northland will know if these leading indicators ring true.
According to our partners at Minnesota Public radio, building permits were also up in the Twin Cities substantially in the month of March close to 50 percent.