Friday, August 12, 2011

August St. Croix Valley Dashboard Released

The UW- River Falls Center for Economic Research (CER) in partnership with St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) has released the August 2011 edition of the St. Croix Valley Economic Dashboard. The dashboard is a snapshot of the economic condition of the labor, consumer and housing markets in the three county St. Croix Valley. It presents the latest available data* in one convenient package and can be viewed on the CER's website at

The dashboard includes two new indicators this month: the Philadelphia Fed’s Leading and Coincident Indices of economic activity. The Coincident Index of economic activity provides an estimate of Wisconsin’s economic growth rate expressed as a seasonally adjusted annual rate, and the Leading Index of economic activity forecasts economic growth for Wisconsin over the next six months.  These two indices provide information about the over all health of the state economy and give an indication of future economic performance. Both the Leading and Coincident Indices indicate that the state economy is growing annually by about 3.0 percent.

The Labor Market

While the national jobs report was far from stellar, Total nonfarm payroll employment rose 117,000 in July, the general consensus is that the July jobs report is much better than many economist feared. The economy created just enough jobs to keep pace with new entrance to the labor force, and as a result, the unemployment rate was little changed at 9.1 percent last month. Moreover, job creation for June was revised up to 46,000 and job creation for May was revised up to 53,000. While this news is welcome, the fiscal condition of the public sector continues to way on the economy. The public sector lost 37,000 jobs in July, which marks the ninth straight month of public sector job loss. 

At the state-level the story in June was mixed. The Wisconsin economy created 9,500 jobs on net, but lost jobs in several key areas. Particularly, the public sector lost an additional 3,400 jobs marking the third straight month of declines and a total loss of 4,700 jobs since June 2011. One the other hand, the largest increase came from the leisure and hospitality sector where 6,200 jobs were created. Leisure and hospitality sector tends to be composed of lower paid jobs then the public sector, which highlights the importance of looking beyond net jobs created when evaluating economic growth. While there was net job creation in June, over all income may be diminishing.

The state unemployment rate increased slightly to 7.6 percent in June '11, which is 0.7 percentage points lower than June '10. Conditions in the regional labor market are still slightly better than the state average. The regional unemployment rate increased in June '11  by 0.6 percentage points to 7.0 percent. This change was driven by a 0.5 year over year percentage increase in total employment and a 0.1 year over year percentage increase in the labor force. The region's unemployment rate is lower than the state average of 7.6 percent and comparable to the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) unemployment rate of 6.9 percent. 
The Housing Market

The housing market story is similar to last month. The region saw another monthly increase in median home price, but nether median home price nor the number of homes sold are seasonally adjusted, thus year over year change is a better measure. Median home price in the Valley declined in July ’11 by 4.0 percent from July '10 to $137,750. However, the Case-Shiller Home Price index for Minneapolis and Chicago did show monthly increases in May '11. The number of homes sold in the St. Croix Valley increased year over year by 11.5 percent to 174.


Spending in the Valley, as measured by sales tax revenue, decreased in July ’11 by 14.7% from July ’10, and new vehicle registrations in July ’11 increased by 20.1% from July ’10. Diminished spending is troubling, but increased registrations still indicates continued, al be it fragile, economic growth.

Wisconsin's St. Croix Valley is comprised of St. Croix, Polk, and Pierce counties. All three counties are located along the Wisconsin-Minnesota border. Two of the three counties, St. Croix and Pierce, are included in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metropolitan area, a 13-county region with of population of 3.25 million residents. For additional information on the August edition of the St. Croix Valley Economic Dashboard, contact Dr. Logan Kelly at or (715) 425-4993 or William Rubin at or (715) 381-4383.

*Please note that most regional data is available with between a one and two month delay, thus the current month's dashboard will have data from previous months.

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