For further information contact Economic Research Director BRET MAYBORNE at (414) 287.4122
December 7, 2013 -
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Economic indicators in the metro area weakened in October, with less than a majority of indicators improving over year-ago levels. According to a monthly report by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), 11 of 23 October indicators improved over year-ago levels, down from the 13 positive indicators posted in September.
“October marks the third time in four months that the aggregate number of positive indictors has declined and is the first time since January, 2012 that less than half of these local indicators pointed upward,” said Bret Mayborne, the MMAC’s economic research director. “Job gains continue in the metro area but have weakened in recent months with an increasing number of major industry sectors posting year-over-year job loses.”
"October marks the third time in four months that the aggregate number of positive indicators has declined and is the first time since January, 2012 that less than half of these local indicators pointed upward."
of Economic Research
Highlights of the report include:
- Nonfarm employment totaled 831,500 in October, up 0.2% from one year ago. October’s gain marks the 37th consecutive month of year-over-year gain but matches the smallest percentage increase registered in this period.
- Four of ten major industry sectors registered year-over-year job increases in October, with the construction, mining & natural resources sector posting the largest percentage gain, up 13.1%. Six of ten major industry sectors posted employment declines, with the professional & business services sector posting the largest decline (down 2.7%).
- Increases in metro area home sales continued in October. While October’s 3.8% gain (vs. year-ago levels) is below trend, it still marks the sixth consecutive month of year-over-year gain. Existing home sales have risen in all but one month since June, 2011.
Improvement continued in metro area unemployment indicators. Unemployment compensation claims dropped at a 21.8% rate (vs. year-ago levels) in October, the steepest decline for this indicator in over one year (since August, 2012). The number of unemployed in October fell 0.6% vs. year-ago levels to 51,500 – the smallest total number of unemployed recorded since December, 2008.
October’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate was unchanged from one year ago, at 6.5%. Metro Milwaukee’s rate ranks higher than the 5.7% rate recorded for the State of Wisconsin but below the nation’s 7%.
Indicators: October, 2013 vs. October, 2012
Job growth in the metro area has weakened in recent months with October’s 0.2% increase (to 831,500 jobs) falling below the 0.4% and 1.3% growth rates registered in September and August respectively (vs. year-ago levels). Nonetheless metro area employment growth continues, reaching 37 consecutive months of year-over-year growth (since September, 2010).
In total four of ten major sectors posted year-over-year employment gains. The construction, mining & natural resources sector (up 13.1%) posted the largest percentage gain in October followed by the trade, transportation and utilities sector (up 2.1%), education & health services (up 1.2%) and information (up 0.7%) sectors.
Local job declines were posted in six of ten major industry sectors. October’s steepest decline was registered in the professional & business services sector, down 2.7%. This sector’s decline
follows a 0.8% decrease in September and marks its first back-to-back declines since March, 2010. The government (down 1.3%), manufacturing (down 0.9%), leisure & hospitality (down 0.6%), other services (down 0.5%) and financial activity (down 0.4%) sectors also posted year-over-year job declines.
Mixed results were posted in earnings and production related indicators in manufacturing. The length of the average workweek for manufacturing production workers fell 0.7%, to 42.7 hours, this indicator’s fourth consecutive month of year-over-year decline. Earnings indicators for production workers posted solid monthly gains. Average weekly earnings for such workers reached $796, up 3.7%, while average hourly earnings rose 4.4%, to $18.65. Both earnings gains surpassed consumer price inflation nationally (up 1%) over the same time period.
Among housing and real estate indicators tracked by the MMAC, existing home sales in the metro area posted a 3.8% increase (to 1,186). October’s gain follows the 13.9% year-over-year increase recorded in September. Mortgages recorded in Milwaukee County numbered 2,083 for the month, a 32% decline from one year ago.
New-car registrations rose 6.7% in October (to 2,726), following the 19.4% increase posted in September. Registrations have increased in eight of 2013’s first ten months. Air passenger totals for Mitchell International Airport numbered 567,981 in October, down 5% from year-ago levels. Passenger totals have fallen over 29 consecutive months but October’s decline marked the smallest registered since August, 2011.
Other Indicators (latest available)
The value of signed construction contracts, as reported by F.W. Dodge for September, was $79 million, down 29.3% from September, 2012. Consumer prices nationally, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U), rose 1% in October (vs. October, 2012) to 233.546 (1981-84=100). The Milwaukee area CPI-U reached 225.417 for the first half of 2013, a 2.4% increase from 2012’s first half.