Anemic economic numbers for Wisconsin

The steady drumbeat of less-than-spectacular economic data for Wisconsin in recent months appears to be having a negative impact on the collective psyche of the state’s employers.

Most of the latest economic projections have Wisconsin falling behind the national curves when it comes to jobs and economic development.

  • The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that Wisconsin’s economy grew at 1.5 percent in 2012, placing it behind all of its neighboring states and 32nd in the nation. A state’s gross domestic product (GDP) represents the value of all goods and services produced within its borders.
  • Wisconsin’s six-month economic forecast ranks 49th in the nation, according to the latest state-by-state analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Wisconsin’s coincident growth index stands at -0.74 percent. Wyoming is the only state with a lower projection.
  • The production rate of Milwaukee-area manufacturers contracted for the second consecutive month in May, according to the latest report by the Institute for Supply Management-Milwaukee.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranked Wisconsin last out of 50 states for short-term job growth.

The Marquette-ISM Report on Manufacturing showed the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), a measure of manufacturing growth, dipped to 40.67 in May, slipping from 48.43 in April. Any rate below 50 indicates a contraction in production. The May index showed accelerated declines in new orders, production, employment and inventories.

So, it was not shocking to see the outlooks for the second half of 2013 be less optimistic among respondents to the BizTimes Mid-Year Reader Dashboard Survey. According to the latest survey:

  • 60 percent of readers are forecasting increased revenues for their company in the second half of the year, down from 73 percent at the mid-year point in 2012.
  • 55 percent of readers are forecasting increased profits for their company in the second half of the year, down from 63 percent a year earlier.
  • 35 percent of readers are projecting increased hiring in the second half of the year, down from 54 percent a year earlier.
  • 30 percent of readers plan to make significant investments in equipment in the second half of the year, down from 36 percent a year earlier.
  • 10 percent of readers plan to expand their office/plant space in the second half of the year, down from 21 percent a year earlier.
  • 10 percent of readers plan to move their company to a new location in the second half of the year, up from 9 percent a year earlier.
  • 25 percent of readers plan to provide an employee wellness program in the second half of the year, down from 38 percent a year earlier.
  • 30 percent expect their employee health care benefit costs to rise by up to 10 percent in the second half of the year, down from 52 percent a year earlier.
  • Of those expecting health care benefit costs to rise, 75 percent plan to pass along some or all of their increased costs to employees, up from 50 percent a year earlier.
  • 63 percent expect to increase their investments in branding, advertising and marketing, matching the 63 percent a year earlier.
  • 10 percent have a customized smart phone “app” for their companies, down from 14 percent a year earlier.
  • 70 percent will provide employee pay raises in 2013, up from 69 percent a year earlier.
  • 65 percent will increase the prices of their goods and services in 2013, up from 56 percent a year earlier.
  • 66 percent believe the state’s business climate is improving, down from 73 percent a year earlier.

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