Racine, Milwaukee see largest drops in unemployment rate

Health care leads metro area job gains

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

The cities of Racine and Milwaukee saw the state’s largest drops in unemployment rates over the last year, but also had some of the highest rates among Wisconsin’s largest municipalities.

Racine’s unemployment rate fell 1.7 percentage points to 4.2 percent and Milwaukee dropped 1.5 percentage points to 4 percent. The cities were still ranked 31st and 30th among the 32 largest municipalities, ahead of only Beloit at 4.7 percent.

Kenosha and West Allis also had declines of 1.3 percentage points each and had unemployment rates of 3.6 and 3.1 percent respectively.

The Department of Workforce Development said Racine’s unemployment rate set a new all-time low for the city and Milwaukee’s tied a previous record. Racine was down 0.4 points from April and Milwaukee was down 0.2 points.

Eleven of the 16 southeastern Wisconsin municipalities included in the 32 largest saw unemployment declines from April. Ten of the cities now have unemployment rates below 3 percent.

The lowest unemployment rate was 2.1 percent in Sun Prairie, which overtook Madison for the top spot. Madison’s unemployment rate ticked up from 2 percent in April to 2.2 percent in May while Sun Prairie was unchanged.

Dane County continued to have the lowest unemployment rate in the state, despite a 0.1 percentage point increase to 2.2 percent. Lafayette County also tied for first at 2.2 percent.

Washington County had the lowest rate in southeastern Wisconsin at 2.4 percent, unchanged from April.

Waukesha and Sheboygan counties both dropped 0.1 points to 2.5 percent, while Ozaukee was up 0.1 to 2.6 percent.

Walworth County declined from 3 percent to 2.7 percent and Kenosha was also down 0.3 points to 3.3 percent.

Racine County had the region’s largest drop over the month, down 0.4 to 3.4 percent. Milwaukee was down 0.2 to 3.5 percent.

The Madison area led the state in job gains, adding a seasonally adjusted 6,400 jobs from last year. Metro Milwaukee, including Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties added 4,700 jobs.

Non-seasonally adjusted figures showed the area’s job growth over the last year was concentrated in health care and social services, up 2,200; professional and business services, up 1,200; wholesale trade, up 1,400; and durable goods manufacturing, up 1,000.

Declines came in construction, down 2,400; food service and drinking places, down 1,100; and finance and insurance, down 1,000.

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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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