DWD: February Local Unemployment Rates Announced

Rose Lynch, (608) 266-6753

Wisconsin Counties

Madison – Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Roberta Gassman today announced that local unemployment rates for February 2005 were generally lower compared to February 2004. Of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, 46 had lower unemployment rates, 19 had higher unemployment rates, and the remaining counties were the same.

“Overall, Wisconsin counties see improvement in labor markets, however the sluggishness of the national job market is still evident in many areas throughout the state,” Secretary Gassman said.

February and March are normally Wisconsin’s slowest employment months. Sixty-eight Wisconsin counties had higher unemployment rates in February than they had estimated for January. Two counties were unchanged and two counties had lower rates. Seven counties had unemployment rates estimated at less than 5.0 percent, with Dane County leading the way at 3.6 percent. Ozaukee County had the next lowest rate at 4.2 percent.

Nineteen counties in the state had unemployment rates of 8.0 percent or higher. Most of the counties with higher unemployment rates were counties rural in nature and counties with very strong summer tourism economies. At or near the top was Adams County with a 9.8 percent rate, Rusk and Sawyer Counties with 9.2 percent rates, and Vilas County with a 9.0 percent rate. Both Sawyer and Rusk Counties had very high rates in February and March of 2004, but both dropped to very low rates in the late summer and early fall season, as did Adams and Vilas Counties. In fact, Sawyer County’s unemployment rate was estimated to be 9.5 percent in March of 2004, but 3.9 percent in September of 2004.

Wisconsin Metro Areas

In 10 of Wisconsin’s 12 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) unemployment rates were lower in February 2005 than they were in February of 2004. The Racine Metropolitan Statistical Area’s unemployment rate was unchanged and the Eau Claire Metropolitan Statistical Area had a slightly higher rate in February 2005 than it had in February 2004 – 6.1 percent compared to 6.0 percent. Over the month of January 2005 to February 2005, 11 of the State’s MSAs had higher rates in February than in January. The Janesville/Beloit MSA, however, saw a very large drop, from 9.4 percent in January to 6.1 percent in February.

Eleven of the State’s 12 MSAs had a higher job count in February 2005 than in February 2004. Only the Racine MSA had fewer jobs this year than last. Racine was down an estimated 300 jobs from last year’s figure of 78,200.