Metro Milwaukee economy sags in August

Fewer indicators post gains

Economic indicators

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:07 am

Weak job growth continues to hold back the metro Milwaukee economy, according to the latest report from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

Economic indicators

Of the 22 available economic indicators tracked by the MMAC, only 11 posted year-over-year gains in August, the report states. That’s down from 15 improved indicators in July.

“A lackluster overall job trend in the metro area, cutting across a broad group of major industry sectors, set positive indicator totals down in August,” said Bret Mayborne, the MMAC’s economic research director. “On the positive side, manufacturing and unemployment indicators continued to show improvement from year-ago levels.”

Nonfarm employment in the metro area fell 0.4% in August vs. year-ago levels, to 866,600. August’s year-over-year job decline was the first recorded in the metro area in four months and contrasts with the 1.5% job gain posted nationally, over the same time period.

Both the construction, mining & natural resources and financial activities sectors posted the steepest job declines, down 4.3%, while the largest percentage increase was registered in the education & health services sector, up 1.8%.

Manufacturing indictors pointed upwards in August. Manufacturing jobs rose at a 0.9% pace (vs. one year ago), while earnings and hours indicators for manufacturing production workers registered solid year-over-year gains.

Unemployment indicators posted double-digit declines. The number of unemployed in the metro area fell 14.7% in August (vs. year-ago levels) to 33,200, following July’s 18.1% decrease (vs. July, 2016). New unemployment compensation claims fell 14.1% in August, to 2,840. The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate for August was 3.9%, down 0.8 percentage points from levels posted one year ago. Metro Milwaukee’s rate ranks higher than that posted for Wisconsin (3.4%) but lower than the 4.5% figure posted nationally.

Both local housing and real estate indicators tracked by the MMAC posted August declines. Existing homes sales in the metro area fell 0.3%, to 1,746 and mortgages recorded in Milwaukee County declined 4.6%, to 2,477. August marks the first time since August, 2014 that both indicators declined in back-to-back months.

New-car registrations numbered 1,878 in August, a 6.7% fall from year-ago levels. August’s decline follows the 14.2% decrease recorded in July.

Read more economic data reports at the BizTracker page.

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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