MMAC: Metro Milwaukee economic trend on 'sluggish path'

Freeman Staff

Oct. 8, 2019

MILWAUKEE — The economy in the metro Milwaukee area remains sluggish, according to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, which said only 9 of 23 economic indicators pointed upward in August.

August was the sixth time in the past nine months that positive trending indicators accounted for less than half of the total.

“August’s trend can largely be attributed to two main patterns,” said Bret Mayborne, the MMAC’s economic research director. “Job gains across major industry sectors were increasingly uneven and manufacturing and production indicators posted continuing year-over-year declines.”

Highlights of the report include:

■ Nonfarm employment grew at its second slowest pace this year. Employment rose 0.5% in August (vs. year-ago levels), down from the 1% year-over-year increase posted in July and the 0.7% average gain in employment year-to-date.

■ Only four of 10 major industry sectors registered year-over-year job gains in August. The leisure & hospitality sector posted the largest increase – up 4.1% vs. year-ago levels. Conversely, six of 10 major industry sectors posted employment declines. A 3% decrease in the government sector ranked as the largest percentage loss.

■ Metro area manufacturing indicators posted declines vs. year-ago levels. Manufacturing employment fell for the first time in 20 months and production and earnings indicators for manufacturing production workers all posted year-over-year declines.

Another noted element of the MMAC report was that the number of unemployed in the metro area rose 12.5% in August, compared to August 2018, for a total of 31,600.