St. Croix EDC: November 2011 economic dashboard released

Contact: Bill Rubin/Jacki Bradham, St. Croix EDC, 715-381-4383

The November 2011 edition of the St. Croix Valley Economic Dashboard has been released by the Center for Economic Research (CER) at UW-River Falls and St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC). The dashboard is a snapshot of the economic condition of the labor, consumer and housing markets in the three county St. Croix Valley (Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties). It presents the latest available data in one convenient package (note most regional data is available with a one or two month delay). The dashboard can be viewed on the CER’s website at

Dr. Logan Kelly, director of the CER, conducts research for the Dashboard and offered his observations:

State and National Indicators

“Nationally, the economy grew at a seasonally adjusted annually 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 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey of households. However, the BLS survey of employers finds that Wisconsin lost 12,400 jobs. It is not uncommon for these 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, 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 peeked in March 2011 and January 2011, respectively. This negative growth trajectory indicated by both statistics is quite concerning, and may be cause to expect worsening labor market condition over the next year.”

See attached Upper Midwest Indicators Table & Coincident Indicators Table jpg files.

Labor Market

“While the national jobs report could have been better, there was some encouraging news. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose 80,000 in October. The public sector continues to shed jobs, losing 24,000 jobs in October. The private sector preformed better, gaining 104,000 jobs in October. The economy created slightly more jobs than needed keep pace with new entrance 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 net jobs in September, and has gained only 21,200 jobs over the last year. The lost jobs were in a few key areas in September. 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 where 1,500 jobs were 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 St. Croix Valley regional unemployment rate decreased in September by 0.49 percentage points to 5.6 percent. This change was driven by no change in total employment 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 MN-WI 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 one year ago. Nationally, the Case-Shiller Home Price index decreased slightly in the month of August. The median home price in the St. Croix Valley is also below 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 MSA, a 13-county region with of population of 3.25 million residents. For additional information on the edition of the St. Croix Valley Economic Dashboard, contact Dr. Logan Kelly at [email protected] or (715) 425-4993 or William Rubin at [email protected] or (715) 381-4383.