State unemployment rate dips to 2.8%

But state lost 3,100 private sector jobs in April

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

Wisconsin’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to a record low of 2.8 percent in April, even as another employment survey showed a decrease in private sector employment from March, according to new data released by the state Department of Workforce Development.

April marked the third straight month with a state unemployment rate below 3 percent and labor force participation increased slightly to 68.9 percent.

Overall employment increased by 8,100 to 3,086,100, according to data based on a survey of 985 households in the state.

Data from a survey of 5,500 employers, however, showed total nonfarm employment decreased by 1,000 and total private sector employment was down by 3,100 from March to April. Government jobs were up 2,100 in the month. No single sector showed a statistically significant gain in employment. Construction employment was down 2,000, transportation, warehousing and utilities decreased 1,000 while professional and business services increased by 1,100.

The state has added 15,900 jobs during the first four months of the year.

The DWD touted data showing a 26,100 job increase in private sector employment over the last year, a roughly 1 percent increase. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has decreased by 0.5 percentage points during the last year and by more than 1 percentage point in the last two years.

The steady decrease in unemployment has left employers searching to find workers, helping to push wages higher.

Among all employees, weekly wages averaged a 3.6 percent increase in 2017 compared to the previous year. Wage growth accelerated in the first three months of 2018, averaging a 5.9 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

Manufacturing production workers in metro Milwaukee have seen even more pronounced gains, averaging a 12.8 percent increase in 2017. The average increase for January, February and March of this year, compared to 2017, has been 12.1 percent.

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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