MMAC economic indicators improve

The Milwaukee area’s economic recovery picked up some speed in November, according to the latest monthly report compiled by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC).
Fifteen of 23 business activity indicators for the Milwaukee area posted gains in November, up from the revised 13 upward pointing indicators posted in October, marking the highest number of positives posted since May of 2011.
“The aggregate number of positive indicators ticked upward in November after languishing through much of 2011’s second half,” said Bret Mayborne, the MMAC’s economic research director. “The broader base of economic growth is certainly positive but the present pace of employment growth in the metro area is less than one-third its average over 2011’s first eleven months.”
Highlights of the report include:
* Metro area job gains continued in November. The month’s 0.7 percent gain marked nonfarm job’s 17th consecutive month of year-over-year increase, but the present rate of growth is the slowest posted since September, 2010.
* Five of 10 major industry sectors registered year-over-year job increases in November, while an equal number recorded declines. The leisure and hospitality sector posted the largest percentage job gain, up 5.8 percent, while the largest decline fell in the construction, mining & natural resources sector, down 8.3 percent.
* The trend in home sales has improved in 2011’s second half. Existing home sales rose 23.8 percent in November, this indicator’s fifth consecutive year-over-year gain. This comes after declines were posted in five of 2011’s first six months.
* Area unemployment indicators improved in November. The number of unemployed fell 5.6 percent for the month (vs. year-ago levels) after being unchanged in October. On a year-over-year basis, new unemployment compensation claims fell 8.9 percent in November following monthly increases in each of the three previous months. The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate for November totaled 7.2 percent, down 0.4 percentage points from one year ago. November’s rate ranks as the lowest raw (unadjusted) rate posted since December, 2008. The jobs recovery in the metro area started in July, 2010 and has continued now for 17 consecutive months (vs. year ago levels).
*Home sales rose off of weak year-ago levels. Existing home sales in the metro area numbered 801 in November, a 23.8 percent gain over year-ago levels and its fifth consecutive month of year over-year increase. Mortgage numbers continue to trend downward. The number of mortgages recorded in Milwaukee County fell 20.9 percent in November to 2,726, this indicator’s 10 consecutive decline.
* Air passenger totals at Mitchell International fell for the sixth consecutive month. The 13.4 percent decline in passenger usage for November ranks as the steepest decrease in this period.
* The value of signed construction contracts, as reported by F.W. Dodge for October, was $135 million, up 7.1 percent from October, 2010.

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