MMAC economic indicators show modest growth

Economic indicators for southeastern Wisconsin show continuing modest growth, according to the latest data from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC).
Overall, 15 of 23 local economic indicators posted year-over-year gains in July, up from the 13 upward pointing indicators for June.
“July marks the thirteenth consecutive month in which a majority of local indicators have posted year-over-year gains,” said Bret Mayborne, the MMAC’s economic research director. “To this point local economic growth has held ground despite a lackluster trend nationally. Yet metro area gains may begin to erode if national sluggishness persists for an extended period. “
Highlights of the report include:
Employment in the metro area rose at a 2.3 percent pace in July over year-ago levels, surpassing both state and national job growth rates over the same time period. Among major industry sectors, five of 10 registered year-over-year job increases in July. The leisure & hospitality sector posted the largest percentage gain, up 8.5 percent. For major industry sectors with job declines, the 3.9-percent decline in the construction, mining & natural resources sector ranked as the biggest percentage fall.
Existing home sales in the metro area rose strongly in July vs. year-ago levels. July’s 43.1-percent increase marks this indicator’s first year-over-year rise in six months.
Slow progress continues among metro area unemployment indicators. For July, the number of unemployed fell 3.7 percent from year-ago levels, to 68,200. New unemployment compensation claims fell at a 13.6-percent pace in July from year-ago levels (to 9,897), following the 14.1-percent decline posted in June. The metro area’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate averaged 8.4 percent in July, down 0.4 percentage points from one year ago. The local rate ranks higher than Wisconsin’s 7.7 percent rate but is below the nation’s 9.3 percent figure.
Metro area new-car registrations rose against year-ago levels for the seventh consecutive month, up 4.1 percent to 2,358.
Air passenger usage of Mitchell International Airport totaled 899,751 passengers in July, down 3.1 percent from one year ago.
The value of signed construction contracts, as reported by F.W. Dodge for June, was $76.4 million, down 30 percent from June, 2010.

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