Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March 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 March 2012 edition of the St. Croix Valley Economic Dashboard 2.0. The dashboard is a snapshot of the economic condition of the labor, consumer and housing markets in the six county St. Croix Valley, which now includes the Wisconsin counties St. Croix, Pierce and Polk, as well as the Minnesota counties Chisago, Ramsey and Washington. 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 3.0 percent during the fourth quarter of 2011, up 0.63 percentage points from the previous quarter. Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 227,000 in February, and the unemployment rate, at 8.3 percent, is 0.7 percentage points below the February 2011 rate. Job gains occurred in professional and businesses services, health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and mining. The public sector remained unchanged in February, although the public sector in 2011 lost an average of 22,000 jobs per month.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was down slightly to 6.9 percent, in January, which was lead by a 0.1 percent increase in employment and 0.1 percent decrease in labor force, according to the BLS survey of households. However, Wisconsin lost 12,500 jobs during the year of 2011. This indicates that while the labor market conditions have improved in Wisconsin, that improvement has been driven by growth in neighboring states.

Minnesota’s unemployment rate was also down slightly to 5.6 percent, in January, which was lead by a minor decrease in employment and a 0.2 present decrease in labor force, according to the BLS survey of households. Minnesota gained 15,500 jobs, according to the establishments survey.

The Philadelphia Fed’s Coincident Index of economic activity indicated the Wisconsin economy contracted at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.6 percent in January ‘12, and Leading Index is predicting a positive annual growth rate of 1.95 percent over next the six months, which is too low to expect meaningful labor market recovery. The Minnesota economy contracted at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.88 percent, and the Leading Index is predicting a negative annual growth rate of 0.88 percent over next the six months.

Labor Market

The Wisconsin economy gained 12,500 jobs on net in the month of January but lost 12,500 jobs over 2011. The Minnesota economy gained 15,500 jobs on net in January and gained 35,800 over the last year.

Job losses occurred in a few areas, but overall most sectors grew during the month of January. Wisconsin and Minnesota both had job losses in the public sector of 3,200 and 1,700 respectively.
In Wisconsin, there were gains in mining and logging, construction, manufacturing, trade, transportation and utilities, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitability. The largest gains for Wisconsin came in construction which added 4,200 jobs and trade transportation and utilities which added 3,700 jobs.

In Minnesota there were gains in mining and logging, construction, manufacturing, information, professional and business services, education and health services and other services. The largest job gains were in professional and business services which added 5,600 jobs and construction which added 4,200 jobs.

Conditions in the new regional labor market are fairing better than the state average. The regional unemployment rate rose in December by 0.25 percentage point to 5.6 percent, lower than the state average in Wisconsin of 7.0 percent, and comparable the Minnesota average of 5.7, and Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) unemployment rate of 5.2 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 Chicago and nationally decreased for the month of November but increased for Minneapolis. for the first time in four months. Nationally the home price index has decreased every one of the past eight months. Median home price decreased in the region for the month of February and number of homes sold increased in the region for the month of February. Number of homes sold was 19.5 percent higher than one year ago and Median home price is 4.1 percent lower than one year ago. 

The Wisconsin/Minnesota St. Croix Valley is comprised of St. Croix, Polk, and Pierce counties in Wisconsin and Chisago, Ramsey and Washington counties in Minnesota. All six counties are located along the Wisconsin-Minnesota border. Four of the six counties, St. Croix , Pierce, Ramsey and Washington, 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 March 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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