Milwaukee area ranks in bottom half of metros for economic growth

Economic indicators

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

The metro Milwaukee area’s economy grew by less than a tenth of a percent last year as the region continued to be among the slowest growing in the state and ranked in the bottom half of all metro areas in the country.

Economic indicators

The region, which includes Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties, saw its real gross domestic product, increase by just 0.07 percent in 2016 to $89.16 billion, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Wisconsin’s real GDP grew 1.1 percent over the same period and the country as a whole grew 1.5 percent.

Wisconsin’s growth was led by the Janesville-Beloit metro area, which grew 3.85 percent. Madison continued to be a top performer, growing 3.17 percent. The Oshkosh-Neenah and Sheboygan metro areas also had strong growth at 2.56 and 2.34 percent respectively.

The Racine metro area, which only includes Racine County, saw a decline of 1.76 percent. The Wausau and Eau Claire areas had growth of 0.37 and 0.26 percent after growing by 3.14 and 4.48 percent in 2015.

Milwaukee’s nearly flat growth was an improvement over 2015, when real GDP decreased by 3.59 percent. Measured in 2009 dollars, the region’s real GDP is slightly smaller than it was in 2011 and is less than 1 percent ahead of where it was in 2007.

The region ranked 265 out of 382 metro areas for growth in 2016 and over the last five years has averaged a ranking of 236th.

Metro Milwaukee has the 37th largest real GDP in the country having been passed by Las Vegas in 2015. Among the metro areas ranked 20th to 60th last year, Milwaukee has averaged a ranking only slightly ahead of the bottom quarter over the last five years.

Manufacturing, particularly of durable goods, continues to be among the top contributors to the Milwaukee region’s GDP, accounting for almost 16 percent of the total. The manufacturing sector was down in 2016 by 3.5 percent to $14.2 billion, continuing a three year trend of declines.

Other top contributors included finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing at 24 percent. That sector rebounded from being down sharply in 2015 to slight growth of 0.2 percent in 2016.

Professional and business services made up almost 14 percent of the region’s real GDP and continued a steady trend of growth, up 3.12 percent in 2016. The sector got a particularly strong boost from the management industry.

Health care and social assistance made up more than 9 percent of the region’s economy and saw growth of 2 percent last year.

Overall, private goods-producing industries accounted for 19.3 percent of the region’s GDP and saw a decline of 2.6 percent. Private service-providing industries made up 72.6 percent and saw growth of 0.7 percent.

Read more economic data reports at the BizTracker page.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at 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.

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