How do Wisconsin’s manufacturing job losses compare to other states?

Last updated on June 23rd, 2020 at 11:47 am

Wisconsin added 9,400 manufacturing jobs from April to May but employment in one of the state’s largest sectors is still down 29,000 from March, according to the latest seasonally-adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The rebound in the sector’s employment was driven by jobs in nondurable goods manufacturing, which saw an employment increase of 11,700, the largest jump of any state. An increase of 8,300 positions in food manufacturing helped fuel the sector’s rebound from April, according to non-seasonally-adjusted data.

Prior to May, the best one-month increase in manufacturing jobs came in December 2019 with the addition of 3,400 positions.

Wisconsin’s 6% decrease in manufacturing employment since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic is in the middle of the pack nationally.

The monthly BLS surveys used to monitor the labor market are typically done in the week with the 12th of the month. As a result, the March survey did not capture much, if any, economic fallout from the coronavirus. It is also unclear exactly how much of the reopening of Wisconsin’s economy is included in the May data. The state Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order in the same week data was collected.

So far, the loss of jobs since March essentially wiped out all the state’s manufacturing job gains since the end of 2011.

Wyoming is the only state with an increase in manufacturing employment since March, up around 100 jobs or 1%.

Michigan has seen the largest decline over those two months with a 23% drop, although the state did add 33,700 manufacturing jobs from April to May.

Unlike Wisconsin, Michigan’s manufacturing job growth was concentrated in the durable goods sector with gains in fabricated metal, machinery, transportation equipment and motor vehicle parts.

In Wisconsin, durable goods manufacturing was down by 2,300 in May and is now down more than 25,000 since March. The sector’s largest drop in May cam from electrical equipment, appliance and component manufacturing, which lost 4,300 positions.

While the number of continuing unemployment claims in Wisconsin has continued to come down since data was collected for May, there have also been a number of manufacturers announcing layoffs in recent weeks. Nearly 81% of the 2,595 job cuts included in mass layoff notices to the state in May and June are at manufacturers. Many of those job cuts are scheduled to take place in the coming months.




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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.

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