Free Tuesday Trends sample: Green Bay Packers rising, employment mixed and DNR falling

Below is an excerpt from the most recent edition of WisBusiness Tuesday Trends.

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RISING

Green Bay Packers: The smallest market in American professional sports again shows a big financial return for the year ending March 31. According to a release from the team, the Packers showed a 26 percent profit increase over that 12-month period, setting a franchise record for the second straight year. Team officials attribute the showing to record revenue — $308.1 million — along with relatively low player costs, though those will rise in the team’s next report to shareholders following big contracts doled out to stars Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. Still, the team’s solid financial footing also contributes to Forbes magazine ranking the Packers at No. 18 on its list of the world’s most valuable sports franchises. The team ranked 17th on last year’s list, but its estimated value climbed from $1.09 billion to $1.16 billion. In addition to the banner financial year, Forbes notes stadium renovations that will add the financial equivalent of an extra home game to the team’s pocketbook, and that the project was funded, in part, by the sale of stock in the country’s lone publicly-owned major sports franchise.

MIXED

Employment: The latest monthly estimates from the state’s labor department show Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.8 percent in June from 7.0 percent in May, with the state gaining an additional 17,500 jobs. And the latest economic forecast from the state Revenue Department projects employment will return to pre-recession levels by the end of 2014. But the DOR report says the state’s economic growth still lags the nation as a whole, attributing the sluggish recovery to the lagging national recovery, federal sequester cuts and global economic weakness. The forecast projects the state to add about 31,000 jobs over the course of 2013 and another 40,000 jobs in 2014; the report also expects modest job gains in the trade and manufacturing sectors, but says those industries won’t reach pre-recession levels during the forecasted period, which extends to 2016.

FALLING

DNR: In a decision that splits the justices 4-3, the Wisconsin Supreme Court rules that the Department of Natural Resources overstepped its authority in regulating the water level of Lake Koshkonong in Jefferson County. The DNR originally denied a petition to raise the high water mark on the lake, which was then upheld following a hearing. Writing for the majority, however, Justice David Prosser says the DNR “inappropriately relied on the Public Trust Doctrine” of the state’s constitution. The doctrine gives the state regulatory power over navigable waters. Prosser also says the agency ignored evidence of a detrimental economic impact from lower water levels while accepting economic arguments that supported its initial decision. Business groups and local critics hail the decision, with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce officials arguing the rule correctly limits the DNR’s regulatory authority as it relates to the public trust doctrine. But Justice Patrick Crooks’ dissent says the majority seized the opportunity to weaken the doctrine — “a significant and disturbing shift in Wisconsin law.”