Most area business leaders optimistic about Q3

But fewer predict profit gains, employment growth

Mayborne

Most area business leaders are optimistic about how their companies will perform in the third quarter, according to the latest business outlook survey conducted by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

The survey includes responses from 113 Milwaukee-area firms, both large and small, that employ more than 43,250 people.

Of those surveyed, 65 percent predict third quarter sales gains, 58 percent predict increased profits in the quarter and 44 percent say they expect to increase employment in the third quarter.

Only 10 percent predicted sales declines in the third quarter and only 10 percent predicted a decline in profit, while 13 percent said they planned to reduce staff in the quarter.

These third quarter sales expectations matched the second quarter outlook survey results, while profit expectations were down from the 61 percent who predicted second quarter gains.

Bret-Mayborne-4C_opt-1
Mayborne

“These results suggest that while growth is likely to continue, the pace of growth may be slower than average,” said Bret Mayborne, the MMAC’s economic research director.

Job growth expectations for the third quarter are down slightly from the 46 percent who expected job growth in the second quarter outlook survey.

The number of jobs in the metro Milwaukee area has grown for 68 consecutive months.

In a separate MMAC report, the metro Milwaukee economy showed improved performance in May as 17 of the 23 economic indicators tracked by the association posted year-over-year increases, up from just 13 improved indicators in April. The May report is the most recent of the MMAC’s monthly economic indicator reports.

“The aggregate number of positive indicators rebounded in May to its highest total in seven months, but overall job growth remains lackluster,” Mayborne said.

Non-farm employment in the metro Milwaukee area rose to 862,300 in May, up just 0.6 percent compared to a year ago. Over the same time frame, jobs nationally grew at a 1.7 percent rate and rose 1.5 percent in the state.

“Year-over-year job increases in the metro (Milwaukee) area have fallen under 1 percent in six of the past seven months and rank significantly below both national and state level growth rates,” Mayborne said.

The local unemployment rate is now down to 4.2 percent (not seasonally adjusted), down 0.8 percentage points from a year ago.

Other highlights of the May MMAC report:

  • The number of unemployed in the metro area fell 16.6 percent in May (compared to a year ago), to 34,600. New unemployment compensation claims for the Milwaukee area were down 9.2 percent in May.
  • Existing home sales for the metro area rose 12.1 percent in May, to 1,717. The number of mortgages in Milwaukee County increased for the first time in five months and was up 8 percent in May, compared to a year ago.
  • The number of air passengers using Mitchell International Airport rose 2.7 percent in May, to 570,643, the eighth year-over-year increase in the past nine months.

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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