Metro Milwaukee unemployment at 3%, but job growth lags behind state

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:08 am

The unemployment rate in metro Milwaukee dipped to 3 percent in November, but the region’s job growth continued to lag behind the state of Wisconsin as a whole, according to data released by the Department of Workforce Development.

The unemployment rate in metro Milwaukee, which also includes Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties, fell 1.1 percentage points over the last year. Only Racine had a larger drop at 1.2 percentage points and Janesville matched the decline at 1.1 points.

Statewide, the unemployment rate has fallen from a non-seasonally adjusted 3.7 percent to 2.7 percent over the last year and 31 of the state’s 32 largest municipalities now have unemployment rates below 4 percent. Racine is the highest at 4.1 percent.

The city of Milwaukee has seen its unemployment rate drop from 5.2 percent to 3.8 percent over the last year. The 1.4 percentage point drop was only eclipsed by the 1.5 point drop in Racine.

But despite the dropping unemployment rate, metro Milwaukee is still lagging behind the rest of the state when it comes to job growth. The region increased employment 0.8 percent over the last year while the state’s employment was up 1.4 percent, according to seasonally adjusted data. While the Milwaukee area added 6,900 jobs, the Madison region added 9,900, an increase of 2.5 percent. The trends are similar for both seasonally and non-seasonally adjusted data.

The unemployment rate data comes from a survey of households while the job growth data comes from a survey of employers. Both are estimates of the current employment environment. The gold standard for measuring employment is generally considered to be the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which relies on data from nearly all employers but is delayed six months.

The most recent release of the QCEW showed a similar pattern as metro Milwaukee lagged behind the rest of the state during the first half of the year when it comes to job growth.

Read more economic data reports at the BizTracker page.

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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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