Friday, November 18, 2011

November 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 November 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

State and National Indicators

Nationally, the economy grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.46 percent during the third quarter of 2011, up 1.46 percentage points from the previous quarter. The unemployment rate decreased slightly in October to 9 percent. While the national growth rate has increased, it is still short of the minimum three percent growth most economists agree is needed to see noticeable labor market recovery.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was down slightly to 7.8 percent in September and both total employment and labor force increased slightly, according to the BLS survey of households. However, the BLS survey of employers finds that Wisconsin lost 12,400 jobs. It is not uncommon for theses two surveys to conflict slightly because they are measuring different aspects of the economy. The household survey focuses on people living in the state, thus for calculating the unemployment rate we use household survey data. The employer survey focuses on people working in the state, thus we use employer survey data to calculate job creation. 

The Philadelphia Fed’s Coincident Index of economic activity indicated the state economy contracted at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.3 percent in September, and the Philadelphia Fed’s  Leading Index is predicting a negative 0.3 percent growth rate over the next year.  The Coincident and Leading indices peaked in March ’11 and January ’11, respectively. This negative growth trajectory indicated by both statistics is quite concerning, and may be cause to expect worsening labor market conditions over the next year. 
Labor Market

While the national jobs report could have been better, there was some encouraging news.  Total non-farm payroll employment rose by 80,000 in October.  The public sector continues to lose jobs, losing 24,000 jobs in October.  The private sector performed better gaining 104,000 jobs in October.  The economy created slightly more jobs than needed to keep pace with new entrants to the labor force, causing the unemployment rate to decrease slightly to 9 percent last month.  With the postal service restructuring taking place and other public sector budget cuts predicted, the public sector is expected to continue losing jobs in coming months.

The Wisconsin economy lost 12,400 jobs on net in September and has gained only 21,200 jobs over the last year. The September losses where in a few key areas. The public sector lost an additional 11,500 jobs, Manufacturing lost 3,000 jobs, and Professional and Business Services lost 1,300 jobs. The largest increase came from the Health and Education Services sector gaining 2,700 jobs; the Construction sector also made solid gains with 1,500 jobs created.  Overall the private sector lost 900 jobs and the public sector lost 11,500 jobs.

The state unemployment rate decreased slightly to 7.8 percent in September, which is 0.1 percentage points lower than one year previous. Conditions in the regional labor market are still slightly better than the state average. The regional unemployment rate decreased in September by 0.49 percentage points to 5.6 percent. This change was driven by total employment remaining the same and a 0.7 year over year percentage decrease in the labor force. The region's unemployment rate is lower than the state average of 7.8 percent and comparable to the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) unemployment rate of 6.0 percent.

Housing Market

The Case-Shiller Home Price index for Minneapolis and Chicago, have shown slight increases in June, July, and August but the index still shows home values are considerably below levels from one year ago.  The Case-Shiller Home Price index nationally decreased slightly in the month of August.  Median home price in the Valley is also below levels from one year ago, but the number of homes sold increased from one year ago.
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 November 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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