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Economic activity in the Ninth District, compared to August 2018 report, has expanded moderately. There was strong growth in Employment and more hiring although there seem to be a slack in the labor force. Since the last report in August, Price pressure and wage growth were moderate. The other areas of growth were manufacturing, real estate, consumer spending, services, real estate (residential), tourism, consumer spending and mining. Construction didn’t show much growth basically up and down, agriculture showed no improvements since the last report, relatively weak overall.
There are continued labor constraints although hiring demand is robust. High-tech fields in Minnesota rose from last year. There seem to be solid hiring in the Dakotas and Minnesota. The concern for the District is it is becoming more difficult to find labor. In the state of Minnesota and Wisconsin the offices there are saying they aren’t close to filling their available openings. Companies have plans to expand and want to expand but they are challenged in finding enough workers. Wage growth on average raised to 5% from 3% and the same is expected for next year. Entry level job wages have increased as well and high vacancies is partly the cause for the increase.
Compared to the August 2018 report, prices have increased moderately in most areas. Retail fuel did not chance much since August. Transportation logistics increased, Retail food and beverages have increased modestly. Increased price for material and increased demand for construction subcontractors has consequently led to an increase in construction costs. Agriculture remained weak showing a price decrease for cattle, corn, soybeans, milk, hogs, and turkeys.
South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota showed higher receipts for the summer compared to a year ago. There has been an announcement furniture retailer major expansion of stores. The passenger traffic at all of the airlines in Minneapolis-St. Paul has increased. These activities explain the moderate increase in Consumer spending compared the August 2018 report.
Moderate tourism growth was reported over the District states. South Dakota gaming receipts fell slightly. There was an 8% increase in traffic at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which occur annually in August. The Montana State Fair saw a drop in attendance due to extreme heat over the summer, but that didn’t seem to effect total revenue. North Dakota’s State Fair this year almost set an all-time attendance record. Billing and Bozeman, Montana summer music and festival season was robust in attendance and spending reportedly. Services A $300 million expansion from an electronics distributor broke ground. Trucking freight demand increased over last year. Cargo shipments in the Great Lakes increased 2. 5%, which is also an increase from a year ago. Agricultural data analytics saw and increase in demand as farmer look for ways to capitalize on input costs. This explains some the moderate increase in the professional services industry since the August 2018 report.
Modest increase in residential real estate activity in Montana and Sioux Falls, South Dakota compared to last year. Residential real estate activity was the most robust in northern Wisconsin in a least twelve years. However, commercial real estate experienced continued closures of large retail stores. Western Wisconsin had two anchor mall closures. Overall a modest growth of in real estate was reported
Construction crews worked more hours which cause the heavy constructor sector spending to increase. The District had a dry summer. Although construction spending was down in July the report for commercial construction is up and down, relatively mixed. There has been an increase in construction permits.
Manufacturing The ninth district experienced a modest increase in manufacturing activity compared to the August 2018 report. A shuttered plant is scheduled to re-open in Minnesota that produces solar panels. Expansion announcement have been made by and HVAC manufacturer. Expansion announcement has also been made for the production of heavy equipment radiators.
Although growing conditions within the Ninth District were optimal over the summer, the overall agriculture sector has reported weak. Oil and gas activity have decreased since the last report. Commodity prices are low and are driving down farm finances. Montana’s coal production has increased since the last report. Iron ore mines are operating at capacity and they are looking to open another mine.
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