ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate declined to 4.6% for May, an increase of 0.2 percentage point (pp) from the prior month and 0.9 pp decrease from a year ago. The 4.6% unemployment rate for Wisconsin remains lower than the national unemployment rate of 5.5%.

According to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wisconsin gained 35,759 jobs in 2014, a 1.5% growth rate, ranking Wisconsin 38th in the nation in the pace of job creation.  The U.S. added 2.9 million jobs in 2014, indicating a growth rate of 2.6%.

The latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey indicates  that hiring will be at a bullish pace during third quarter in the metropolitan Milwaukee area.  Employers included in the survey indicated that 29% plan to hire additional employees from July-September.  The Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis market scored a 27% net employment outlook, showing improvement from a year ago when the outlook was only 23%.  The national net employment outlook was 16%, remaining the same from the previous quarter.  The net employment outlook is measured by percentage of plan hires offset by percentage of plan reduction in payroll.

OFFICE MARKET TURNS 

For the first time since Q4 2012, the Milwaukee office market reported negative absorption.  The office market previously had nine consecutive quarters of positive absorption and this quarter posted a total of 161,387 negative square feet (sf).  The overall vacancy marginally increased, increasing 0.03 pp year-over-year, to 20.0%.  The largest negative absorption resulted from Kohls Corporate leaving Liberty II at Park Place and moving into the former 330,000-sf, Innoware warehouse that was rehabbed and will be owned by Kohls in the Silver Spring Corporate Park.

PARK EAST DEVELOPMENT

The Milwaukee Bucks are planning to buy almost 10 acres of public land in the Park East corridor for $1, and invest another $500 million in additional development surrounding the arena.  The owners hope to create around 1.5 million sf of residential, office, parking, and retail space in the area.  An affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks ownership group has already purchased a small retail building that secured the last piece needed to assemble space for the arena.  Expectation of the development has spurred many local groups to plan on securing space in the Park East corridor.  Wangard Partners Inc is planning to purchase a 4-story, 75,000-sf warehouse building that formerly housed Laacke & Joys. The group plans to convert the building into offices.  Furthermore, Wangard plans to demolish the warehouse

OUTLOOK

For 2015, the Metro Milwaukee area continues to display positive growth with special attention paid to downtown developments.  Economic indicators show an upward trend for the area largely led by an improving job situation.  Developers are remaining somewhat optimistic, largely in anticipation of the future arena development.

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