Wisconsin ranks 42nd in job growth over last 12 months

Economic indicators

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

In announcing monthly jobs data for October, the state Department of Workforce Development highlighted Wisconsin’s increase of 32,000 private-sector jobs since October 2017.

Economic indicators

The number represents a statistically significant increase. It also equates to job growth of 1.26 percent, which ranks 42nd in the country, according to a review of data released for all states on Friday.

Nine states, led by Oregon, Texas and Nevada, saw job growth exceed 3 percent for the 12 months ending in October. Twenty states increased private-sector employment by at least 2 percent.

Department of Workforce Development secretary Ray Allen pointed to Wisconsin’s low unemployment rate and roughly 100,000 open jobs on the state’s online job portal in announcing the data.

“With an unemployment rate of 3 percent, the 9th straight month the state’s unemployment rate has remained at or below the 3 percent threshold, there is no better time to be a job seeker in Wisconsin,” Allen said in a statement.

While low unemployment and difficulty for employers to fill open jobs might explain some of the state’s lackluster job growth, similar situations do not appear to be holding other states back. Neighboring Iowa has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 2.4 percent and its employment increased 1.73 percent over the last 12 months.

New Hampshire and Idaho have unemployment rates of 2.6 and 2.7 respectively and both increased employment more than 2 percent.

Virginia, with an unemployment rate of 2.9 percent, was in the top 10 for job growth at 2.78 percent.

Vermont was the only state with a lower unemployment rate than Wisconsin that had worse job growth.

One area where Wisconsin’s job growth is stronger is manufacturing, which makes up about 19.1 percent of private-sector employment in the state. The industry added 20,000 jobs in Wisconsin since October 2017, a 4.26 percent increase.

The state ranks eighth in manufacturing job growth during the last year. Nevada leads with a 13.8 percent increase.

Among the 25 states with the highest number of manufacturing employees, Wisconsin had the second best job growth behind only Arizona at 5.1 percent.

Indiana, which has the highest percentage of the workforce dedicated to manufacturing of any state at 19.5 percent, actually saw a slight decrease in employment in the industry.

Wisconsin’s October jobs report did not provide much positive news. Private sector employment was down by 1,600 from September. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3 percent, but labor force participation was down 0.2 percentage points to 68.4 percent.

September’s jobs data was revised from a loss of 900 jobs to a gain of 400.

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for 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.