Accounting for seasonal change, Wisconsin leisure and hospitality sector loses 4,500 jobs in June

The good news for Wisconsin’s leisure and hospitality sector is that it added 15,000 jobs from May to June.

The bad news is that figure is not seasonally adjusted and doesn’t account for the sector’s expected uptick in employment as tourism activity picks up around Wisconsin.

Seasonally adjusted figures released Thursday by the state Department of Workforce Development show Wisconsin lost 4,500 leisure and hospitality jobs from May to June, including a decline of 3,400 in arts, entertainment and recreation.

Essentially, the leisure and hospitality sector did not add as many jobs as would be expected for the time of year.

The loss of 4,500 jobs was enough to swing overall private sector job growth in the state to a loss with Wisconsin dropping 1,700 jobs from May to June.

Durable goods manufacturing, on the other hand, added a seasonally adjusted 2,600 jobs and professional, scientific and technical services added 2,900.

Dennis Winters, chief labor market economist at DWD, suggested a few possibilities explain the underperformance of leisure and hospitality including a tight labor market, issues with visas used to bring international workers to areas like the Wisconsin Dells, and fewer people working multiple jobs.

The idea behind the last explanation is that rising wages have made it easier for people to opt to work just one job, potentially making it harder for sectors that often rely on part-time help.

“Restaurants and bars and accommodations are looking for help all over,” Winters said.

The Wisconsin labor market continues to be tight with an unemployment rate in June of 2.9%, unchanged from May. The state’s labor force participation rate dipped a tenth to 66.4% and is down three-tenths of a point over the past year, but it remains more than 4 percentage points better than the national labor force participation rate.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.