MMAC economic indicators slipped in December

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) reported that 12 of its 23 business activity indicators for the local economy improved in December, down from the 15 upward pointing indicators in November.
“While the local economy improved throughout 2011 in a number of critical indicators, there was as noticeable slowing of those gains in the year’s second half,” said Bret Mayborne, the MMAC’s economic research director. “Recent national reports suggest that a firmer platform may exist for local area economic growth to work from in calendar year 2012.”

Among the December indicators:
* The manufacturing sector posted its 18th consecutive month of year-over-year job gain in December but for the first time since September, 2009 all three hours and earnings indicators for manufacturing production workers pointed downward.
* Nonfarm employment in the metro area grew at a 0.7 percent pace in December (vs. year-ago levels).
* Five of 10 major industry sectors registered year-over-year job increases in December, while an equal number recorded declines. The other services sector posted the largest percentage job gain, up 5.5 percent, while the largest decline fell in the financial activities sector, down 2.8 percent.
* The number of unemployed fell 4.5 percent for the month (vs. year-ago levels) to 54,900, this indicator’s 19th year-over-year decrease in 20 months. New unemployment compensation claims numbered 8,701 for December, a 4.3 percent fall from year-ago levels. The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate for the metro area dipped below 7 percent for the first time since December, 2008. Rates peaked at 10.2 percent in March and April of 2010 and have steadily declined since.
* For December, existing home sales numbered 844, a 22.3 percent increase from one year ago.
* Air passenger totals at Mitchell International fell 15.9 percent in December to 651,551.

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