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October 2012 economic dashboard released

The October 2012 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 seven county St. Croix Valley, which includes the Wisconsin counties of Polk, St. Croix, Pierce, and Dunn and the Minnesota counties of Chisago, Ramsey and Washington.

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

State and national indicators

"The U.S. seasonally adjusted annually growth rate for the second quarter of 2012 was revised to 1.3 percent, which was 1.22 percentage points lower than one year previous," Kelly said. "The national unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September, down 1.3 percent from a year ago. The national inflation rate increased 0.27 percentage points from last month and is down 2.07 percentage point from last year."

In Wisconsin, nonfarm payroll employment increased in August, but has decreased by 0.2 percent from a year ago. The unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points from a year ago to 7.5 percent, and increased 0.2 percentage points from July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey of households.

The BLS survey of households finds that Wisconsin has gained 6,582 jobs over the last year. However, the BLS survey of employers finds that Wisconsin lost 4,400 jobs over the last year. The two surveys seem to indicate that much of improvement in the Wisconsin labor market is driven by job creation in neighboring states, not within Wisconsin.

Minnesota's unemployment rate in August was 5.9 percent, which is 0.6 percentage points lower than one year previous. The BLS survey of employers finds that Minnesota has gained 22,600 jobs over the last year.

The Philadelphia Fed's Coincident Index of economic activity indicated the Wisconsin economy contracted at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.26 percent in August, and the Leading Index is predicting 0.77 percent growth over next the six months. The Minnesota economy contracted at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.46 percent, but the Leading Index for Minnesota is predicting a positive annual growth rate of 1.42 percent over next the six months."

Labor market

"Nationally, we have seen steady, albeit slow, improvement in the labor market," Kelly said. "The national economy has added a total of 1,806,000 jobs year to date."

The Wisconsin economy lost 7,800 net jobs from July to August and has lost 4,000 jobs since August 2011. The Minnesota economy lost 2,000 net jobs from July to August and has gained 22,600 jobs since August 2011.

"In August, Wisconsin lost jobs in construction, information, professional & business services, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and government. The most significant job losses came in manufacturing sector (4,500 jobs lost) and trade, transportation and utilities (2,000 jobs lost). Minnesota saw gains in four sectors and decreases seven sectors. The most significant losses came in the manufacturing sector (2,700 jobs lost) and trade transportation and utilities (3,400 jobs lost.)."

"Conditions in the regional labor market are faring better than the Wisconsin state average," Kelly said. "The regional unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.9 percent in the month of August and it remains lower than the state average in Wisconsin of 7.5 percent, and is the same as the Minnesota average of 5.9 percent. The data suggests that the St. Croix Valley's relative economic strength is due to its proximity to the Twin Cities."

The Wisconsin/Minnesota St. Croix Valley is comprised of St. Croix, Polk, Pierce and Dunn counties in Wisconsin and Chisago, Ramsey and Washington counties in Minnesota. All seven counties are located at or near the Wisconsin-Minnesota border. Five of the seven counties (St. Croix, Pierce, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington) are included in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metropolitan area, a 13-county region with of population of 3.3 million residents.

For additional information on the October 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.