Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January St. Croix Valley Economic Dashboard Released

The UW- River Falls Center for Economic Research (CER) in partnership with St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) has released the January 2012 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 1.8 percent during the third quarter of 2011, up .48 percentage points from the previous quarter. Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 200,000 in December, and the unemployment rate, at 8.5 percent, continued to trend down. Job gains occurred in transportation and warehousing, retail trade, manufacturing, health care, and mining. The public sector, though, continued its downward tend, losing 12,000 jobs in December.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was down slightly to 7.3 percent, in November, which was lead by a 0.3 percent increase in employment and a very minor decrease in labor force, according to the BLS survey of households.  However, the BLS survey of employers finds that Wisconsin lost 14,600 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 1.56 percent.  The Philadelphia Fed’s Leading Index is predicting a positive 0.29 percent growth rate over the next year.  Although a 0.29 percent increase is quite small, it is an improvement over the negative growth rates that have been predicted over the last few months.  The Coincident and Leading indices peeked in March ’11 and January ’11, respectively.

Labor Market

The Wisconsin economy lost 14,600 jobs on net in November, and has gained only 4,500 jobs over the last year.  Job losses occurred in nearly sectors all, with the exception of Other Services. The public sector lost an additional 2,900 jobs, manufacturing lost 3,100 jobs, trade, transportation & utilities lost 3,300 jobs, and health and education services sector lost 1,300 jobs.  Overall, the private sector lost 11,700 jobs.    

Conditions in the regional labor market are fairing better than the state average. The regional unemployment rate held steady in November at 5.5 percent, lower than the state average of 7.3 percent and comparable to the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) unemployment rate of 5.1 percent. The St. Croix Valley’s relative economic strength, as compared to the rest of the state, appears to be driven by close proximity to the twin cities.   

Housing Market

The Case-Shiller Home Price index for Minneapolis, Chicago and nationally all decreased for the month of October, continuing a downward trend they have maintained for the past 3 months.  Median home price decreased and number of homes sold increased slightly in the region.  Number of homes sold was 12.4 percent higher than one year ago.  Median home price is 10.1 percent lower than one year ago.  The housing market looks to continue its 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 January 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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