DWD: January Local Unemployment Rates Announced

Rose Lynch, (608) 266-6753

Wisconsin Counties

Madison – Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Roberta Gassman today announced 58 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties had lower unemployment rates reported in January 2005 than they had reported for January of 2004, demonstrating the continuously improving job market. Twelve counties saw rates increase from one year ago, while two counties saw no change in their unemployment rates.

“Continued positive movement in Wisconsin’s labor market is evident in the January job market figures,” Secretary Gassman said. Though encouraged by this continuing good news, we must keep a watchful eye on the pockets of the state where difficulties remain.”

Wisconsin has quite severe normal seasonal fluctuations in unemployment rates, with high unemployment rates in January, February and March, and quite low rates in the late spring, summer, and fall months. Data is not seasonally adjusted and it is typical for January rates to exceed those for December. This is particularly noted in the northern tier counties, and counties with very strong summer tourism seasons. Nevertheless, there were fourteen counties with unemployment rates under 5.0 percent. The lowest rate in the state was reported for Calumet County at 2.7 percent, followed by Outagamie County at 3.1 percent and Dane County at 3.3 percent. The highest rate in the state was reported for Adams County at 9.7 percent, followed by Rock County at 9.6 percent and Menominee County at 9.0 percent.

Wisconsin Metro Areas

In eleven of Wisconsin’s twelve Metropolitan Statistical Areas, unemployment rates for January 2005 were lower than they were in January 2004. The Janesville/Beloit MSA had a higher rate this year than last year. The January 2005 rate for the Janesville/Beloit MSA was 9.6 percent, a reflection of the announced temporary shutdown of the General Motors plant.

The lowest unemployment rate among Wisconsin’s Metro Areas was reported for the Appleton Metro Area at 3.1 percent. The Madison Metro Area had a 3.6 percent rate in January.

MSA Changes

Beginning with the release of today’s figures, several of Wisconsin’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) have changed geographic configurations. The Federal Office of Management and Budget designates MSAs based primarily on the economic integration of labor markets. Changes to the configuration of MSAs are made by the federal government after the decennial Census, and they represent changes in markets, including labor markets. MSAs are designated “to provide nationally consistent definitions for collecting, tabulating and publishing federal statistics for a set of geographic areas. The general concept of a Metropolitan Statistical Area is that of an area containing a recognized population nucleus and adjacent communities that have a high degree of integration with that nucleus.”

The Madison MSA will increase from Dane County alone to also include Columbia and Iowa counties. The Appleton/Neenah/Oshkosh MSA, formerly a three county MSA, becomes two separate MSAs: Winnebago County alone; and a second MSA containing Outagamie and Calumet Counties. Fond du Lac County, formerly not designated an MSA, now becomes an MSA. The Green Bay MSA, which until now had included Brown County only, will become a three county MSA, consisting of Brown, Oconto and Kewaunee counties.

These changes reflect changing markets and the increasing geographic influence of several communities in Wisconsin. Certainly this is true of the Madison MSA and the Green Bay MSA, both of which are growing rapidly. The newly acquired MSA designation for Fond du Lac County also recognizes the growing importance of the Fond du Lac market.

Historic data back to 1990 for purposes of comparison will be available for the new configured MSAs.

More information about the changes can be found by visiting the U.S. Census Bureau on the Internet.