The January 2013 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. 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 www.uwrf.edu/cer.
Dr. Logan Kelly, director of the CER, conducts research for the Dashboard and offered his observations:
“You may have noticed that the CER website has undergone some significant renovation. Some of the key features are new data tables and plots, links to download the data behind every table and links to embed the tables and plots on your own website. The website has also been reorganized to make navigation easier.”
“Be sure to look at the new Regional Economic Dashboards section of the CER website. While the St. Croix Valley Dashboard is where it has always been, the Momentum West Dashboard has been redesigned as an entirely web based report. This is only the alpha release, so there are still a few bugs to work out. Keep checking back for new features.”
The U.S. Economy
National Inflation: “The consumer price index, a measure of overall price level based on a basket of consumer goods, increased by 1.74 percent from one year previous in December. This is well below the Federal Reserves stated target of 2 percent annual inflation. Given other macroeconomic conditions, it is unlikely the Federal Reserve will alter its current monetary policy. Moreover, both the Producer Price Index (0.85 percent increase year over year) and the Employment Cost Index (1.91 percent increase year over year), which are indicators of future inflationary, show no signs of price level increase for the immediate future.”
Labor Market: “Total nonfarm employment rose by 134,021 in December and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.8 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Key sectors of increased employment were health care, food services and drinking places, construction, and manufacturing. For more information about the national labor market, see BLS Employment Situation Report.”
“Though nonfarm employment did not increase enough to lower the unemployment rate, the four-week moving average of initial claims has fallen for the sixth straight week. Initial claims for unemployment benefits are a leading indicator of labor market conditions because they are a measure of the number of workers who have recently lost their jobs.”
Wisconsin and Minnesota
“According to the latest Establishments Survey data released by the BLS, the Wisconsin and Minnesota economies both gained jobs on net in December 2012. Wisconsin gained 1,300 jobs and Minnesota gained 9,100 jobs. Over the previous 12 months, Wisconsin has gained 9,100 jobs and Minnesota has gained 51,900 jobs. Both states unemployment rates fell in December to 6.6 percent in Wisconsin and 5.6 percent in Minnesota. Both are below the national average of 7.8 percent.”
See Wisconsin and Minnesota Employment by Sector Tables
“In December, Wisconsin saw job creation in construction (up 4,900 jobs), financial activities (up 400 jobs) leisure and hospitality (up 3,400 jobs) and had negligible increases in manufacturing, and professional services. Wisconsin lost jobs in all other categories with the private sector gaining 4,500 jobs and government losing 1,300 jobs. Minnesota gained in nearly all categories with significant increases in manufacturing (up 1,400 jobs), professional services (up 2,500 jobs), and education and health services (up 1,800 jobs). Minnesota lost 8,200 private sector jobs and 900 government jobs.”
The St. Croix Valley
Labor Market: “The unemployment rate in the St. Croix Valley fell to 5.0 percent in November, and remains below both the Wisconsin and Minnesota averages. The rate is 0.26 percentage points below one year previous. Total employment (Households Survey) continued the upward trend it began in January, adding 3,174 jobs since November 2011. The labor force has also grown modestly, indicating that the St. Croix Valley is continuing to experience slow but steady recovery in the job market.
Housing Market: “The housing market in the St. Croix Valley showing signs of stabilization. The latest release of the Case-Shiller Home Price index indicates that, in October 2012, home prices had risen in the Minneapolis MSA by 9.2 percent since one year previous. Moreover, both median home price and number of homes sold increased in December as compared to one year previous.”
About the St. Croix Valley
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.