New business filings in Minnesota were up 24 percent in the first three months of the year, compared to the same period a year ago.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says about 90 percent of the 18,000 new businesses were created by individuals who are self-employed. He sees the spike in numbers as a sign of economic improvement.
"This year we're seeing a very sharp rise compared to one year ago," Ritchie said. "The assumption we make is that this is consistent with the reported rise in business activity."
State economist Tom Stinson said the uptick in new business registrations is a good sign.
"People are a little more confident about the economy than they were last year at this time or last fall even," Stinson said.
Stinson said the rise in self-employment may explain why the state's unemployment rate has dropped off so much, despite employers' relatively modest hiring trends.