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REPORT: Wisconsin State Unemployment Down

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) estimates of unemployment and employment statistics for metro areas, major cities and counties in Wisconsin, according to a release from the DWD. The estimates include updates for February 2016 and the preliminary estimates for March 2016. In brief, the not-seasonally adjusted estimates showed:

  • Metropolitan Statistical Areas: Preliminary March 2016 unemployment rates decreased in all 12 metro areas compared to February 2016 and in 11 of the 12 compared to March 2015. The largest 12-month decline was 0.8 percent in Janesville-Beloit. The latest rates ranged from 3.6 percent in metro Madison to 6.1 percent in metro Racine.
  • Municipalities: Preliminary March 2016 rates decreased or remained the same in all of the state's 32 largest municipalities compared to February 2016 and in 27 of the 32 compared to March 2015. The latest rates ranged from 3.2 percent in Madison to 7.2 percent in Racine.
  • Counties: Preliminary March 2016 rates decreased in 71 of Wisconsin's 72 counties compared to rates in February 2016 and decreased or remained the same in 56 of the 72 compared to March 2015. The latest rates ranged from 3.4 percent in Dane to 10.2 percent in Bayfield.

The release of the March 2016 local rates follows last week's release of BLS monthly estimates showing that Wisconsin added a significant 47,500 private sector and 51,200 total non-farm jobs over the year ending in March 2016, the best year-over-year growth since 2004 in both categories. Preliminary data also showed that Wisconsin added a statistically significant 13,100 private sector jobs from February 2016 to March 2016 and that total employment grew by a statistically significant 58,000 year-over-year to more than 3 million, an all-time high.

Other indicators of the state of Wisconsin's economy include:

  • Wisconsin was one of only 10 states with an annual average unemployment rate in 2015 lower than 2007, the year that the Great Recession began. The state's average annual unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in 2015 (not seasonally adjusted).
  • New business formations through March 2016 are up 3.7% compared to 2015.
  • 2016 initial UI claims are running the lowest since 1990.
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