MMAC economic indicators still on the rise

Fourteen of 22 available business activity indicators for the metro Milwaukee area registered improvement in May, according to the latest report by the Metropolitan
Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC).
While a majority of indicators are still upward pointing locally, the aggregate number is down from the 19 positives posted in January.
“The number of positive indicators in the aggregate has slid in recent months suggesting that the local economic recovery may have plateaued somewhat,” said Bret Mayborne, the MMAC’s economic research director. “Nonetheless jobs continue to expand at a healthy pace vs. year-ago levels particularly relative to national averages.”
Non-farm employment in the metro area rose at a 2.4 percent pace in May (vs. May, 2010), to 831,000.
Among major industry sectors, six of ten registered year-over-year job increases in May. The “other services” sector posted the largest percentage gain, up 7.7 percent. Among major industry sectors with job declines, the 4.2-percent decline in the “construction, mining & natural resources” sector ranked as the largest percentage fall.
New-car registrations in the metro area rose at a 4.9-percent year-over-year pace in May.
Unemployment indicators posted positive results in May. New unemployment compensation claims fell 1.9 percent (to 5,706) from year-ago levels. The number of unemployed in the metro area also fell, declining 7.7 percent from one year ago to 63,800.
The metro area’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate averaged 8 percent in May, down 0.8 percentage points from one year ago. The local rate ranks higher than the 7.4 percent rate posted statewide but is below the nation’s 8.7 percent figure.
Declines continued in housing and real estate indicators tracked by the MMAC. Existing home sales in the metro area numbered 1,038 in May, down 21.1 percent from one year ago, while mortgages recorded in Milwaukee County fell at a 21.6-percent pace (to 1,854).
The value of signed construction contracts, as reported by F.W. Dodge for April, was $73.1 million, up 58.3 percent from April, 2010.

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