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July 31, 2014 – Metro Milwaukee economic indicators showed continuing gains in June as a majority of local indicators improved over year-ago levels, according to a monthly report by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC). Sixteen of 22 available indicators pointed upward in June matching the 16 positives posted in each of the previous two months.
“Growth in metro area employment levels has quickened in recent months,” said Bret Mayborne, economic research director for the MMAC. “June’s job gain on a year-over-year basis was the strongest recorded in the post-recession period and was in fact the strongest single month of growth in percentage terms posted in over 16 years.”
“June’s job gain on a year-over-year basis was the strongest recorded in the post-recession period and was in fact the strongest single month of growth in percentage terms posted in over 16 years.”
of Economic Research
Highlights of the report include:
• Nonfarm employment averaged 852,800 in June, a 2.6% rise over year-ago levels. June’s gain follows the revised 1.4% year-over-year increase recorded in May and marks the strongest year-over-year gain posted since April, 1998.
• Seven of ten major industry sectors registered June job gains (vs. one year ago), while three posted declines. The construction, mining & natural resources sector (up 7.5% over year-ago levels) posted the largest percentage increase. Conversely, a 2.2% job decline in the financial activities sector was the largest decrease registered.
• Manufacturing indicators were mixed but generally flat. Manufacturing jobs posted a modest decline (down 0.1% from one year ago) and the length of a production worker’s workweek fell. At the same time earnings measures for production workers registered year-over-year increases.
Unemployment indicators for the metro area continue to trend downward. The number of unemployed fell 14.8% (vs. one year ago) in June, to 54,300. On a year-over-year basis the number of unemployed have only increased three times in the past 50 months. New unemployment compensation claims fell at a 2.4% pace in June (vs. year ago levels), following the 22% decline registered in May.
June’s seasonally unadjusted jobless rate of 6.7% is down 1.2 percentage points from the 7.9% rate posted one year ago. Currently, the metro area's unemployment rate is higher than the state's 6% rate and the nation's 6.3% figure.
Indicators: June, 2014 vs. June, 2013
Nonfarm job levels in metro Milwaukee reached 852,800 in June, a 2.6% increase over one year ago. Year-over-year employment growth in the metro Milwaukee has averaged 0.8% in the post-recession period. June’s growth ranks over three times higher than this average and marks the strongest growth posted since April, 1998.
In percentage terms June’s employment growth was led by a 7.5% increase in the construction, mining and natural resources sector. Strong June gains were also posted in the leisure & hospitality (up 6.7%), education & health services (up 4.5%), government (up 4.2%), and professional & business services (up 2.8%) sectors. Modest gains in the other services (up 1.2%) and trade, transportation & utilities (up 1%) sectors were also recorded.
Three major industry sectors posted job declines in June. The financial activities sector, down 2.2% (to 53,300), posted the largest year-over-year decrease. Smaller declines were registered in the information (down 0.7%) and manufacturing (down 0.1%) sectors.
Manufacturing’s recent job trend (down 0.1% in June, unchanged in May) as well as the downward trend in the length of a production workers workweek suggest a generally lackluster manufacturing trend. The average workweek length for manufacturing production workers fell for the eighth consecutive month, down 2.3%, to 41.7 hours. Earnings indicators were more positive. The average weekly earnings for such workers increased 0.6% (to $781), while average hourly earnings rose 3%, to $18.74.
A downward trend continued in June among local housing and real estate indicators tracked by the MMAC. Existing home sales in the metro area fell for the fifth consecutive month – down 2.1% to 1,561 – but June’s decline was the smallest recorded in this period and follows the 10.5% decrease posted in May. Mortgages recorded in Milwaukee County dropped 27.4% in June, to 2,106, following the 28.5% decline posted in May (vs. May, 2013).
New-car registrations increased 6.3% from one year ago (to 3,125), following a 5.3% decline in May. June’s gain marks the fourth increase in car registrations in the past five months. June air passenger totals at Mitchell International Airport were unavailable at the time of this release.
Other Indicators (latest available)
The value of signed construction contracts, as reported by F.W. Dodge for May, was $127 million, up 37.1% from May, 2013. Consumer prices nationally, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U), rose 2.1% in June (vs. June, 2013) to 238.343 (1982-84 = 100). The Milwaukee area CPI-U reached 224.705 for the second half of 2013, a 1.2% increase from 2012's second half.