Wisconsin’s unemployment rate declined to 4.5% for August, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point (pp) from the prior month and a 0.8 pp decrease from a year ago. The 4.5% unemployment rate for Wisconsin remains lower than the national unemployment rate of 5.1%. The latest National Manpower Employment Outlook survey indicates the strongest hiring expectation since Q4 2007. Locally, employers included in the survey indicated that 23% of employers anticipate hiring additional employees in the final quarter of 2015. The Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis market scored a 20% net employment outlook, which represents a decrease from 27% in the previous quarter. The national net employment outlook was 18%, an increase from the previous three quarters of 16%. The net employment outlook is measured by percentage of plan hires offset by percentage of plan reduction in payroll.
The Institute of Supply Management Report on Manufacturing scored Wisconsin and Northern Illinois at 39.44 for September 2015, indicating a contraction outlook. A score below 50 means reduction as a measure of new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries, and inventories in the manufacturing industry. The purchasing managers’ index has been below 50 for the sixth consecutive month. Of those surveyed, 38% expect positive conditions in the next six months, while 23% anticipate conditions to worsen.
For the 21st consecutive quarter, the Milwaukee industrial market experienced positive overall absorption, with 144,626 square feet (sf) absorbed in the third quarter. This total represents a sharp decrease in comparison to Q2, when just under 1 million square feet (msf) was absorbed. Waukesha and Washington reported positive absorption in Q3. Waukesha County captured the majority of absorption for the quarter, while Milwaukee County accounted for the largest negative absorption. In addition to overall positive absorption, the overall vacancy rate continued to decline, with Q3 2015 posting a 0.3-percentage point (pp) decrease quarter-over-quarter to 4.8%, marking a 1.3-pp decrease year-over-year.
The Wisconsin economy continues to display positive growth through 2015. The global economy however is filled with mixed signals that headwinds may be coming for manufacturers. Locally, four global companies-General Electric, Joy Global, Johnson Controls, and Caterpillar- have announced significant job reductions.
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