It took until 2018 for Milwaukee County’s economy to reach pre-recession levels

Downtown Milwaukee skyline
Downtown Milwaukee skyline. Photo by Shutterstock

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:33 pm

Milwaukee County’s real GDP grew 1.9% in 2018, the strongest year of growth since 2011 and enough to finally put the county’s economy ahead of its 2007 peak, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The BEA released prototype county-level GDP data for a few years in 2018 and on Thursday released estimates going back to 2001 for the first time.

According to the new data, Milwaukee County’s GDP, measured in 2012 dollars, has now increased by 1.5% from its 2007 level.

Dane County, meanwhile, has grown 34% while Wisconsin, as a state, has grown 12.6%.

Combined, the counties of Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington have grown 14.2% since 2007. Dane County, however, surpassed the three WOW counties in total size in 2013.

Across southeastern Wisconsin, Washington and Walworth counties rebounded past 2007 levels by 2010 and 2011 respectively. Ozaukee followed suit in 2012 and Waukesha and Kenosha reached 2007 levels by 2013. Sheboygan County took until 2015.

Racine County’s GDP is still down from its 2007 pre-recession level by 0.25%. The county did post growth of 3% in 2018, the best annual rate since 2010.

In Milwaukee County, private service-providing industries – which make up about 75% of the county economy – have grown at a compound annual rate of 0.3% since 2007. Private goods-producing industries – about 15% of the economy – have shrank at a compound annual rate of 0.5%.

Within service sectors, the county has seen strong growth in professional and business services with a 1.6% CAGR; educational and health services with a CAGR of 1.3%; and accommodation and food service, which had a CAGR of 0.9%.

In goods producing sectors, manufacturing is down slightly with a 0.1% compound annual rate of decline. Growth of 0.5% in durable goods manufacturing is offset by a 1.4% decline in nondurable goods manufacturing.

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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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