Just half of the economic indicators tracked by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce showed year-over-year growth in December.
The December report described the indicators as “lackluster” and noted that at least half of the metrics were negative in nine of 12 months last year.
“This weakness was offset by an improving rate of overall job growth, pushing job totals to record high levels over the course of 2019,” said Bret Mayborne, economic research director at MMAC.
Manufacturing-related indicators were among those trending in a negative direction. Total manufacturing employment in the region was down 2.7% to 115,900. The number of hours worked per production worker dropped from 43.5 to 41 and the average hourly wage for production workers dropped from $23.26 in 2018 to $23.03.
The decline in hours and wages led to a 6.7% drop in average weekly wage for production workers, down from $1,011.81 to $944.23.
The metro Milwaukee unemployment rate was also up from 2.8% in December 2018 to 3.1% in December 2019. The state unemployment rate saw a similar shift from 2.8% to 3.2% while the national rate was down 0.3 percentage points over the same period.
Metro Milwaukee also saw a 16.3% year-over-year decrease to 1,147 new car registrations for December.
On a positive note, total nonfarm payroll in the metro area increased 1.4% over the year to 890,100. That growth rate was better than the 0.9% growth the region averaged for the entire year.
Sectors with the strongest job growth included education and health services, up 4%; construction, up 3.2%; trade, transportation and utilities up 2.3%; and leisure and hospitality, up 2%.
Metro Milwaukee also saw strong growth in existing homes sold, up 18.5% from December 2018. Milwaukee County also saw a 50.7% increase in the number of mortgages issued.
The region also saw a 4.9% increase in airport passengers, an improvement over the 2.8% average decline for the year.