ST. CLOUD - A new report indicates the St. Cloud metro area's economy is growing.  The St. Cloud Area Quarterly Business Report from St. Cloud State University says our economy grew rapidly over the summer.

Economist Rich MacDonald says total private-employment jobs in St. Cloud are just within a few hundred of what it was in July 2007, prior to the recession.

MacDonald says forty-one percent of the local businesses they surveyed increased employee wages last quarter, while none of them reduced wages.  They also reported hiring qualified workers has been challenging, and wages are rising, because of the pull of the oil expansion in North Dakota.

However, MacDonald cautions that the impact of the Verso Paper Mill shut down has not been factored into the numbers yet.  But, he says it will be somewhat offset by the news of Geringhoff coming to town.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development says the St. Cloud Metro area had a record labor force of nearly 111,000 workers in July -- that figure will be updated next week.