Recent economic activity in the Ninth District was stable. The unemployment rate decreased to 5.8 percent, while manufacturing wages increased by 0.9 percent over a year ago. Nonfarm employment decreased slightly during March. Housing units authorized for the three-month average ended in March were up 47 percent compared with the same period a year earlier. The Ninth District Stock Market Index decreased by 3.6 percent during April and was 2.6 percent lower than a year ago.
Labor Markets and Wages
The district unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent in April. This is 0.8 percentage points lower than the same period in 2011. Comparatively, the national unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent, 0.9 percentage points lower than the previous year. Minnesota’s unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent. North Dakota and South Dakota unemployment rates remained constant at 3 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively. Montana and Wisconsin unemployment rates fell to 6.1 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively.
Nonfarm employment in the district fell during April by 0.1 percent and was up 0.1 percent nationally. Employment was up by 2,800 in North Dakota and 1,100 in South Dakota. Employment fell by 3,100 in Minnesota and 5,900 in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Montana employment was up 300. District nonfarm employment increased 0.5 percent from a year ago.
The district average hourly manufacturing wage increased by 0.9 percent for the three-month period ended in April versus the same period in 2011. The national three-month average rose by 0.9 percent over the same period. North Dakota manufacturing wages increased 8 percent compared with a year earlier, while wages in Montana and Wisconsin were flat.
District housing units authorized for the three-month average ended in April were up 47 percent compared with the same period a year earlier. Nationally, housing units authorized were 29 percent higher. Housing unit authorizations increased in all District states compared with last year. In Montana and North Dakota authorizations increased more than 100 percent.
Regional Stock Performance (as of June 1, 2012)
The Ninth District Stock Market Index decreased 2.5 percent during May, and was down 1.4 percent compared with a year earlier. In comparison, the S&P 500 and the S&P Midcap 400 decreased by 6.6 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively, over the month. The S&P 500 was 3.7 percent lower than a year ago and the S&P Midcap 400 was 8.3 percent lower.