Monday, December 12, 2011

December 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 December 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 annually rate of 2.00 percent during the third quarter of 2011, up from the previous quarter. The unemployment rate decreased slightly in November to 8.6 percent. While the national growth rate has increased, it is still short of minimum three percent growth most economists agree is needed to see noticeable labor market recovery.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was down slightly to 7.7 percent, in October, caused by a slight increase in total employment and a slight decrease in labor force, according to the BLS survey of households. However, the BLS survey of employers finds that Wisconsin lost 9,700 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 2.93 percent, and the Philadelphia Fed’s Leading Index is predicting a negative 0.67 percent growth rate over the next year.  The Coincident and Leading indices peeked in March ’11 and January ’11, respectively. If this trend of contraction continues, it may cause labor market conditions to worsen over the coming year. 

Labor Market

The national labor markets exhibited private sector job gains and public sector job losses.  Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 120,000 in November.  The public sector continued its downward tend, losing 20,000 jobs in November, while the private sector preformed slightly better than last month gaining 140,000 jobs.  The economy is still just keeping up with new entrances into the labor force. Thus, the unemployment rate changed little. 

The Wisconsin economy lost 9,700 jobs on net in October, and has gained only 6,000 jobs over the last year.  Job losses occurred in nearly every category, with key losses coming in high paying job categories. The public sector lost an additional 400 jobs, manufacturing lost 3,400 jobs, and health and education services sector lost 1,800 jobs. The sectors exhibiting increases in employment were the leisure and hospitability sector, which gained 3,500 jobs, the mining and logging sector, which gained 1,000 jobs, and the information sectors, which gained 1,000 jobs.  Overall the private sector lost 9300 jobs and the public sector lost 400 jobs.

The state unemployment rate decreased slightly to 7.7 percent in October, which is the same as one year previous. Conditions in the regional labor market are fairing better than the state average. The regional unemployment rate held steady in October at 5.6 percent. The region's unemployment rate is lower than the state average and comparable to the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) unemployment rate of 5.4 percent.  Signs seem to point that Minnesota economy is fairing better than its Wisconsin neighbors.  The close proximity of the St. Croix Valley to Minnesota is probably connected to the region having a better economic outlook than majority of the state.  

Housing Market

The Case-Shiller Home Price index for Minneapolis, Chicago and nationally all decreased for the month of September.  Median home price and number of homes sold in the Valley both decreased for the month of November.  Number of homes sold was 3.7 percent higher than one year ago.  The housing market looks to continue its late fall and winter slumber as the weather gets colder.

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 December 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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