MMAC: March economic indicators were 'lackluster'
10 of 23 indicators show upward tick

Freeman Staff

May 8, 2019

WAUKESHA — Only 10 of the 23 economic indicators used by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce in March showed improvement compared to year-ago levels.

MMAC reported March’s aggregate is down from February’s 12 positive indicators.

“March marks the second time in four months that less than half of the indicators tracked were upward pointing,” said Bret Mayborne, the MMAC’s economic research director, in a statement. “This follows a period of 82 consecutive months in which a majority of local indicators pointed upward.”

Nonfarm employment growth was small in March, according to the report, with a net addition of 1,000 jobs on a year-over-year basis. The 0.1% gain in March was less than the 0.6% increase registered in February (over February 2018).

Of the major industry sectors, five of 10 posted year-over-year gains, while two were unchanged and three saw employment declines in the 12-month period.

Both local housing and real estate indicators tracked by the MMAC registered similar March declines. Existing home sales in the metro area fell 14.9% versus year-ago levels while mortgages recorded in Milwaukee County decreased 14.8% over the same time period.

“Milwaukee’s tight labor market may be contributing to slower overall job growth. The metro area’s seasonally unadjusted jobless rate fell to 3.2% in March, down 0.3% percentage points from its year-ago levels. March’s local unemployment rate ranks below both the state’s 3.3% and the nation’s 3.9% rates,” reads the report.

“Other unemployment indicators were mixed. While the number of unemployed fell 8.6% (vs. March 2018), to 26,500, the number of new unemployment compensation claims rose 4.6%,to 2,871, following February’s 13.4% increase — the first backto- back increases in this indicator in almost six years (since June 2013).”