MMAC report: business activity up in May

Freeman Staff

July 5, 2019

WAUKESHA — The metro Milwaukee economy improved slightly in May compared to April, according to the most recent report from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, which said 11 of 22 indicators pointed in a positive direction versus year-ago levels.

In April, there were only 10 improvements, according to the MMAC.

“The current economic environment is a mixture of both positive and cautionary trends,” said Bret Mayborne, the MMAC’s economic research director. “On the one hand, overall job totals in the metro area are inching toward an all-time record, but at the same time the aggregate total of upward pointing indicators is at the low end of its range in the current economic expansion.”

Highlights of the report include:

■ Nonfarm employment numbered 880,900 in May, a 0.7% increase from one year ago. May’s gain ranks marginally higher than the average year-over-year gain (+0.6%) posted over the course of 2019’s first five months.

■ May’s overall employment increase was based on a fairly narrow industry base. In total only four of 10 major industry sectors registered year-over-year growth. The education & health services sector posted May’s strongest gain, up 3.3% from year-ago levels.

■ Manufacturing indicators were mixed. Manufacturing employment rose for the 14th consecutive month (vs. year ago levels) but hours and earnings indicators for manufacturing production workers were generally negative.

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