While metro Milwaukee employment is high, economic indicators are sluggish

Freeman Staff

Dec. 10, 2019

MILWAUKEE — Although unemployment remains very low in metro Milwaukee, business activity indicators measured by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce remain sluggish.

According to a release from the MMAC, 10 of 23 metro area business activity indicators registered improvement in October, which is unchanged from September.

“The number of improvements remains sluggish in total, but metro area job totals reached an all-time high in October and overall job growth posted its highest year-over-year gain since April 2016,” said Bret Mayborne, economic research director for the MMAC. “On the downside, manufacturing indicators tracked by the MMAC continue to post weakness.”

The MMAC report indicated that nonfarm employment in the metro area averaged 890,800 in October, a new record high, surpassing the previous high of 889,500 in June. In addition, October’s 1.3% year-over-year growth rate was the strongest job gain posted in three and one-half years (since April 2016).

Five of 10 major industry sectors recorded year-over-year job increases in October, according to the report. The “other services” sector posted October’s largest employment gain, up 4.4%. Five major sectors also registered declines with the financial activities sector recording the largest drop — down 1.9%.

Manufacturing related indicators each registered year-over-year declines in October.

Manufacturing job levels averaged 116,400, the lowest monthly employment average posted in this industry in over eight years (since May 2011).