Metro Milwaukee economic trends inch higher in May

Milwaukee's skyline.

Half of the economic indicators tracked by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce showed an increase in May compared to the same time last year, a slight improvement over May.

“The current economic environment is a mixture of both positive and cautionary trends,” said Bret Mayborne, MMAC’s economic research director. “On the one hand, overall job totals in the metro area are inching toward an all-time record, but at the same time the aggregate total of upward pointing indicators is at the low end of its range in the current economic expansion.”

The monthly report tracks 22 indicators including employment levels, labor force data, unemployment rates, home sales, transportation and manufacturing hours and wages.

In May, 11 indicators showed an increase over May 2018, up from 10 indicators in April.

The metro area’s nonfarm employment has been trending toward an all-time record high, increasing 0.7% in May. The all-time high for the region was 887,000 in June 2000. The current pace of growth could lead to a new record in June, according to MMAC.

The industry sectors show job gains included education and health services, leisure and hospitality, other services and manufacturing.

Within manufacturing, the job gains were offset by a decline in average hours for production workers, down 4%. Average hourly and weekly earnings were also down.

The real estate indicators in the report showed gains for the first time since April 2018. Existing home sales increased 1.7% and mortgages registered in Milwaukee County increased 11.5%

New car registrations also increased 15.1%.

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.