Rose Lynch (608) 266-6753
Note: Web Audio
Madison – Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary
Roberta Gassman today announced that 62 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have a lower
unemployment rate in September 2004 than they had in September 2003, while seven saw
higher rates and three were unchanged.
“While we continue to see improvements in the state’s labor market, it is clear that
improvements must be made in certain areas of the state,” Secretary Gassman said. “We
shouldn’t be satisfied with these numbers, when so many continue to struggle from the job
losses over the past four years.”
Last week, DWD announced that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate
increased between August and September. Of Wisconsin’s eleven metropolitan statistical
areas, four had slightly lower seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in September than
they experienced in August, four were unchanged and three saw increases.
Using unadjusted figures, 65 counties experienced lower unemployment rates in
September than they had experienced in August, while 5 were unchanged and 2 saw their
rates go up. It is seasonal, and therefore common, for unemployment rates to drop in
Wisconsin in September as many seasonal employees move on to school, or other
activities as the fall and winter seasons approach. With a smaller labor force and fewer
people looking for seasonal work, the unemployment rate drops. Thus, even though the
number of jobs in Wisconsin decreased slightly between August and September, the
unemployment rate also decreased. Employers have a harder time finding employees for
the short-term seasonal jobs of the fall and winter season. The labor force decreases
slightly, the number of jobs decreases slightly and the number of employed also decreases.
Counties where colleges are located or are close by, often see employment increase as the
school year begins.
There continue to be wide disparities between metropolitan areas in Wisconsin. For
example, Racine, Janesville, Beloit, Kenosha and Milwaukee continue to have very high
unemployment rates, some of the worst among Metropolitan areas in the nation, while
Madison and LaCrosse are near the best in the nation.
Thirty-seven counties had unemployment rates lower than 4.0 percent, and five of
those were below 3.0 percent. Dane County at 2.2 percent, Buffalo and Ozaukee counties
at 2.6 percent, Iowa County at 2.8 percent, and La Crosse County at 2.9 percent were the
state’s low unemployment rate counties.
By region of the state, the lowest September unemployment rates were seen in the
south central area and the southwestern area. The southeastern area and the northern
area saw the state’s highest unemployment rates. The highest county unemployment rate
in the state was estimated for Menominee at 8.7 percent, followed by Oconto at 7.3 percent,
Juneau at 6.8 percent, Racine at 6.0 percent and Milwaukee at 5.9 percent.
Although the state has been seeing some very modest recovery in manufacturing,
the counties with large percentages of their population employed in production work
continue to experience fairly high unemployment rates signaling the difficulties
manufacturing industries have experienced over the past few years.