Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wisconsin's new boomtown?

After years of employment losses, the city of Milwaukee is growing again. Milwaukee added 2,039 net new jobs in the last 12 months and 4,057 jobs since May 2005. While Milwaukee still has plenty of ground to make up, the city now shows signs of headed in the right direction in terms of employment gains.

In fact, for the most recent month of available data, Milwaukee's employment base expanded at a 0.83% growth rate (May 2006 to May 2007). During the same period, Wisconsin employment grew 0.81% and the M7 region grew at a pace of 0.72%. In other words, employment gains in Milwaukee are now out-pacing both the region and the state.

The following two charts show how Milwaukee has been gaining ground on the region and the state in employment growth. The first chart displays the percentage difference between the employment growth rates in Milwaukee and the state. In other words, if the chart shows a negative (red bar), then the city grew at a slower pace than the state. If the chart show a positive percentage figure (black bar) then the city grew a a faster clip than the state. With this understanding, the chart shows a recovery trend in city of Milwaukee employment growth as it relates to the state. The turnaround began somewhere around 2004 and has continued to this day where the city is now growing faster than the state.

The same trend can also be noted when comparing the city's growth rate to that of its 7-county southeastern Wisconsin region. In this case the trend is even more noticeable with Milwaukee job growth out-growing the region from 2005-2006 and 2006-2007, 0.04% and 0.11% respectively.

So much for Milwaukee being an employment drag on the rest of the region and the state. Then again, out-growing a slow-growth state and a slow-growth region is not much to brag about.

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