Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 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 April 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 www.uwrf.edu/cer.

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 0.61 percentage points from the previous quarter. Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 120,000 in March, and the unemployment rate, at 8.2 percent, is 0.7 percentage points below the March 2011 rate. Job gains occurred in manufacturing, financial activities, professional and business services, education and health services, and leisure and hospitality, but there were job losses in retail trade. The public sector was relatively unchanged posting a loss of about 1,000 jobs.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.9 percent, in February, which was caused by a 0.2 percent increase in employment and 0.2 percent increase in labor force, according to the BLS survey of households. However, the BLS survey of employers finds that Wisconsin lost 16,900 jobs over the last year. 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 up slightly to 5.7 percent, in February, which was lead by a 0.2 percent decrease in employment and a 0.1 percent decrease in labor force, according to the BLS survey of households. Minnesota has gained 35,500 jobs over the last year, according to the establishments survey.

The Philadelphia Fed’s Coincident Index of economic activity indicated the Wisconsin economy grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.38 percent in February ‘12, and Leading Index is predicting a positive annual growth rate of 1.51 percent over next the six months, which is still too low to expect meaningful labor market recovery. The Minnesota economy grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 7.66 percent, and the Leading Index is predicting a positive annual growth rate of 1.89 percent over next the six months.

Labor Market

The Wisconsin economy gained 1,000 jobs on net in the month of February but has lost 16,900 jobs since February ’11. The Minnesota economy gained 6,200 jobs on net in February and has gained 35,500 over the last year.

The month of February had very minor job losses or gains in almost all sectors. Wisconsin had job losses in the public sector of 1,100 jobs in February and has lost 17,400 jobs over the last year. Minnesota had job gains in the public sector of 2,500 jobs, but has also lost some 6,200 jobs over the last year.

In Wisconsin, there were gains in construction, manufacturing, information, financial activities, professional and business services, education and health services and other services. The largest gains for Wisconsin came in construction which added 2,300 jobs and education and health services which added 2,600 jobs.

In Minnesota there were gains in mining and logging, construction, information, education and health services, leisure and hospitality and other services. The largest job gains were in education and health services which added 5,100 jobs, also leisure and hospitality, and construction both added 1,300 jobs.

Conditions in the regional labor market are fairing better than the state average. The regional unemployment rate rose in February by 0.3 percentage point to 6.5 percent, lower than the state average in Wisconsin of 6.9 percent, greater than the Minnesota average of 5.7, and comparable to the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) unemployment rate of 6.2 percent. The data suggests that the St. Croix Valley’s relative economic strength due to proximity to the twin cities.

Housing Market

The Case-Shiller Home Price index for Chicago and nationally decreased for the month of January but increased for Minneapolis. Nationally the home price index has decreased every one of the past nine months. Median home price and number of homes sold both increased for the month of March. Over the last year median home price and number of homes sold have increased by 0.7 percent and 17.9 percent respectively.

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 April edition of the St. Croix Valley Economic Dashboard, contact Dr. Logan Kelly at cer@uwrf.edu or (715) 425-4993 or William Rubin at bill@stcroixedc.com 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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