Manufacturing and construction jobs are slowly returning to Caledonia, Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant.
But we're certainly not out of the unemployment trough created by the Great Recession over the past five years, according to a story on NPR, Five Years Of A Brutal Job Market, In Two Graphs.
The story and graphs paint a dismal picture, with the national unemployment rate hovering at 15 percent, another 5 percent of people working part time and some who have given up looking for work.
According to the story:
Unemployment is still far higher than it was before the recession, as is a broader measure of unemployment (the wonks call it U-6), which also includes people who are working part time but want to be working full time and people who want a job but gave up looking.
So, what does this mean to our local economy and does it match what's going on nationally?
In December 2012, Caledonia's unemployment rate was the lowest in the state at 2.8 percent, Mount Pleasant was at 8 percent and Racine was at 10 percent. These numbers are not seasonally adjusted, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Five years ago the job market was better. Caledonia's unemployment rate was 2 percent, Mount Pleasant was at 4.9 percent, and Racine had an 8.2 percent unemployment rate.
But things are starting to get better in one area, with an increase in building permits in Caledonia, Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant.
Last year, but thanks to increases in residential and non-residential permits, the village collected $158,000—$73,000 more than expected.
Recent permit activities included permits for $5 million expansion, Siena on the Lake's $45 million project and additions of buildings for Parkview Senior Apartments, Village Administrator Mark Janiuk said.
Mount Pleasant leads Racine County in overall growth, accounting for some $40 million in new construction. While some of this development is in tax incremental financing districts and therefore does not immediately help decrease the tax burden on current property owners, the new businesses are employing area residents.
Mount Pleasant saw several new retail businesses open over the past five years: a new Pick'n Save, Red Lobster, Texas Roadhouse, and Cherry Berry Chiller.
Most of the revenue from building permits is for residential projects like new decks, additions and garages.
It's the same story in Sturtevant. Instead of selling a house and moving to a new one, homeowners are adding on and improving existing properties and using local tradespeople to do the work.
Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant have also reached deals with United Natural Foods, and Gordon Foods. Cree Lighting expanded, Service Master, and Sada. Racine Dental, and Walmart also have building projects planned.
So, while construction and manufacturing may be dark and dismal nationally, things are starting to pick up in Mount Pleasant, Sturtevant and Caledonia.
But what do you think? Do you feel like the economy is starting to pick up?