ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The Wisconsin economic momentum continues to show slow and steady improvement.  Wisconsin’s unemployment rate declined to 5.7% for May, a decrease of 0.1 percentage points (pp) from the prior month and 1.1 pp decrease from a year ago and still remains below the national unemployment rate of 6.3%.

According to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wisconsin gained 28,141 private-sector jobs for the year 2013, a 1.2% employment increase, ranking Wisconsin 37th among the nation in the pace of job creation.

However, the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey indicates the job markets of Wisconsin and metropolitan Milwaukee rank among the best in the nation.  Amongst the 10 highest in the nation, the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis market scored a 23 percent net employment outlook, with employers surveyed anticipating an uptick in the hiring pace.  For the United States as a whole, the net employment outlook was 18 percent.

Office Stats on the Go 2014

CONTINUED OFFICE MARKET IMPROVEMENT 

The Milwaukee office market continues to improve through the first half of 2014, another indicator that the economy is slowly improving.  Positive absorption continues throughout Metro-Milwaukee, with the West Allis submarket experiencing the most activity in the second quarter when Johnson Controls committed to 143,000 square feet across two floors in Renaissance Center.

The Milwaukee office market showed a 0.1 percentage point increase in overall vacancy rate, increasing to 19.7%, however remains 0.6 percentage points lower when compared year-over-year.

HEADQUARTER EXPANSION 

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NML) is moving forward with their headquarter expansion as the demolition work is near completion in preparation for their $450 million, 32-story, 1.1 million-square foot (msf) state-of-the-art corporate headquarter office campus.

Kohl’s Corporation has been in expansion mode as well.  Over the past year, Kohl’s has acquired four buildings and vacant land near their existing headquarters in Menomonee Falls, short term functioning to house operations, and allowing for potential expansion in the future.

In Kenosha County, Uline plans to double the size of their corporate campus, building another 200,000 square-foot office building and another 1 msf distribution center at the campus.

Office Rental OccupierOUTLOOK

The Metro Milwaukee area outlook remains at a healthy level of growth, as businesses remain optimistic about future expansion. According to a survey by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, seventy-two percent of businesses surveyed forecast rising sales levels, sixty-six percent expect profit increases and forty-nine percent see employment gains.  As predictions continue to favor economic progress, expect to see a moderate increase in office market activity to keep up with the predictions, albeit at a moderate pace due to a decrease in per square foot per employee ratio.

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