Wisconsin unemployment rate increased to 5.7% in October

Wisconsin lost 2,700 private sector jobs in October and the state’s unemployment rate increased from 5.4% to 5.7%, according to data released Thursday by the state Department of Workforce Development.

Job growth in construction and manufacturing was not enough to offset losses in health care and social assistance and leisure and hospitality sectors.

The construction sector added 4,200 jobs from September to October while manufacturing added 2,000, led by the durable goods sector. The professional and business services sector also added 4,300 positions.

On the other hand, the leisure and hospitality sector lost 7,000 jobs, including 5,300 in accommodation and food service and 1,700 in arts, entertainment and recreation.

The government sector also shed 12,000 jobs and total nonfarm employment was down by 14,700.

Wisconsin’s 0.3 percentage point increase in unemployment came the same month as the U.S. unemployment rate dropped a full point to 6.9%.

The state also saw its workforce participation rate decline from 67.4% to 67.2%. The U.S. participation rate increased by 0.3 points to 61.7% during the same time.

Wisconsin’s job loss and increased unemployment came as the number of coronavirus cases in the state began to increase and Gov. Tony Evers sought to limit indoor gatherings.

The surveys used to determine monthly job figures are done in the week including the 12th of the month. The 7-day average for new COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin was 1,043 on Sept. 12.

By Oct. 12, the 7-day average had reached 2,547. The average number of new cases has continued to climb, reaching 6,209 on Nov. 12 and 6,583 on Wednesday.

Evers also issued an order Oct. 6 limiting public gatherings to 25% of a building’s capacity. The order was blocked and reinstated by multiple courts before being blocked by an appeals court. While the order has expired, the case is pending before the state Supreme Court.

The extent to which the order contributed to the jump in unemployment is unclear. Wisconsin had 12,178 initial unemployment claims the week that included Sept. 12. The number of claims dipped below 12,000 the next two weeks before jumping to 14,971 the week ending Oct. 3, the week before Evers’ order.

The state averaged around 14,160 claims for the remaining for weeks of October, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

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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.

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