State’s job picture improves

NOW

Recent government and economic data show that Wisconsin’s labor market is making noteworthy improvements.

The state added 47,600 jobs from August 2014 to August 2015, an increase of 1.7 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Wisconsin ranked 21st for the number of jobs added and 26th for the percentage of jobs added in the year ending in August, according to the BLS. Compared to its Midwest neighbors, Wisconsin posted a higher job growth rate than Illinois (0.7 percent), Ohio (1.1 percent) and Minnesota (1.2 percent), during the year. Wisconsin added more jobs than Iowa (26,100) and Minnesota (33,600), during the year.

LE-NOW-shutterstock_211835152In August, Wisconsin added 7,200 private sector jobs, according to monthly estimates released by the state Department of Workforce Development.

“Wisconsin’s economy continued to gain ground as our state outpaced over 40 states in its rate of private sector job creation in August, according to the federal government’s latest available data,” said Reggie Newson, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

The state’s unemployment rate in August was 4.5 percent, better than the national unemployment rate of 5.1 percent, and down from 5.3 percent in August 2014. Wisconsin is tied for the 15th lowest unemployment rate of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the BLS data.

More hiring could be on the way. Milwaukee-area employers expect to hire new employees at a fast clip in the fourth quarter, according to the latest survey from Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup.

According to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, 23 percent of companies in the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis Metropolitan Statistical Area plan to hire new employees in the last three months of the year, flat from the fourth quarter of 2014. About 3 percent of employers in the area expect to decrease the number of employees, down from 7 percent in the same period last year. Another 73 percent expect to maintain current staff levels, up from 69 percent a year ago. And 1 percent are not sure what the fourth quarter will bring, flat from the fourth quarter of 2014.

In total, the net employment outlook for the metro area is 20 percent, compared with 16 percent in the same period a year ago.

“Last year at this time, employers expected less hiring activity when the outlook was 16 percent, so year-over-year, the outlook is definitely brighter,” said ManpowerGroup spokesperson Chris Layden.

Statewide, the ManpowerGroup survey revealed a less rosy picture. In the fourth quarter, 22 percent of Wisconsin employers expect to increase staff levels, down from 24 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. Another 7 percent expect to decrease staff levels in the final months of the year, up from 5 percent in the same period a year ago. Another 70 percent expect to maintain staff levels, up from 69 percent a year ago. And 1 percent of Wisconsin employers don’t know if they will hire in the fourth quarter, down from 2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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