Milwaukee manufacturing sector sees growth in May

Milwaukee’s manufacturing sector gained more jobs than the other major industries in May, according to the latest economic trends report from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

While six of the region’s ten top industry sectors had year-over-year job increases in May, manufacturing had the biggest gain with 2.7 percent.

According to MMAC, the manufacturing sector’s job growth was the largest seen in over six years. And several indicators have improved for workers in manufacturing: average weekly work week, weekly earnings and hourly earnings all went up compared to May 2017.

The association routinely tracks 22 business activity indicators, 15 of which showed improvement in May. That’s down from the 18 indicators which showed improvement in April.

“The aggregate number of improved monthly indicators is at the low end of its range in recent months, but a strong majority continue to trend upwards,” said Bret Mayborne, MMAC’s economic research director. “The job situation remains a strong point in this trend with healthy year-over-year overall gains led particularly by robust growth in the manufacturing sector.”

Unemployment in the metro area is on its way down, the analysis shows. The number of unemployed in metro Milwaukee averaged 23,400 in May, down 15.8 percent from a year before. MMAC says that indicator has seen 55 straight months of year-over-year declines since November 2013.

The unemployment rate for metro Milwaukee was 2.8 percent in May, according to the state Department of Workforce Development. The report says new unemployment compensation claims went down 12.5 percent from the previous year.

While manufacturing had the most jobs gained in May, the biggest job losses were seen in the information sector, down 5.1 percent.

Other gainers were education and health services, up 2.5 percent; construction, mining and natural resources, 2.5 percent; other services, 1.9 percent; professional and business services, 1.8 percent; and government, up 0.5 percent.

The other sectors that lost jobs were finance, down 4.5 percent; leisure and hospitality, 1.0 percent; and trade, transportation and utilities, 0.9 percent.

Home sales for the metro area fell 2.6 percent in May. MMAC says this is the first time this indicator had seen year-over-year declines in eight months.

And new car registrations fell 23.8 percent in May, the fifth month straight of declining registrations.

See the full report:

–By Alex Moe