Wisconsin added 11,100 private-sector jobs in March, still down nearly 100k from last year

Wisconsin added 11,100 private-sector jobs in March, but the state’s employment remained down by 98,300 from March 2020, according to data from the Department of Workforce Development.

The uptick in hiring, Wisconsin’s strongest month since December, was primarily driven by the accommodation and food service sector, which added 3,700 jobs. The sector’s employment is still down 36,000 from last year.

Construction also added 2,600 jobs, manufacturing added 2,100 and health care and social assistance added 1,400 to boost job growth.

Professional and business services was the biggest drag on employment with a loss of 1,700 jobs.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was unchanged from February at 3.8%. It is was at 3.2% in March 2020.

Labor force participation ticked up a tenth from February to 65.7% but remained below the 65.9% it was at in March 2020.

While initial and continuing unemployment claims in Wisconsin trended down in the second half of February and March, they have started to increase again in recent weeks.

Initial unemployment claims for the state dipped to 11,793 for the week ending March 13, which is when surveys for the March jobs report were done. It was the lowest level of initial claims since mid-September and one of just four times since March 2020 that claims were below 12,000 for the week.

For comparison, Wisconsin averaged 5,658 initial claims per week for all of 2019.

However, initial claims increased each of the next three weeks after the March low, including jobs of 10.5%, 10.7% and then 15.1% last week, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Continuing unemployment claims followed a similar pattern, trending down since the middle of February to 93,348 the week ending March 13. The average in 2019 was 30,991. Continuing claims were up to 95,123 for the week of March 20, down to 92,669 the week of March 27 and up again to 94,798 in the most recent data.

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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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