MADISON, WI (WSAU) - Unemployment numbers were released this week. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate all 12 of Wisconsin’s metropolitan areas having slightly less unemployment from March to April.
The April preliminary statewide unemployment is 7.1%, which is below the national rate of 7.5%. In central Wisconsin, unemployment is at 7.4% compared to 7.8% in March. It’s still a tenth of a percent higher than this time last year.
Economist Tom Walsh from the Department of Workforce Development says there were no significant changes, but he suspects the weather played a small part in slow outdoor and construction related jobs. “The biggest issue going on with this one is really the unseasonably cold weather that we are all recovering from this spring. The numbers are up a tick over the year. It’s really hard to make the comparison from last April just because of the cold weather that kept us scraping our windshields a little longer than we’d like.”
Walsh is encouraged by the trend of fewer new unemployment claims. “The biggest thing that I see, as far as the positive signs within the region, is claims for initial unemployment insurance. The preliminary numbers I get on the initial claims for unemployment insurance, both year-to-date and claims over the last four weeks, appear to be down in the region as well as in the state.”
Walsh says there is a direct correlation between new unemployment claims and layoffs, so the new numbers are a small dose of good news. “We use that as kind of a proxy for layoffs, so in short, what a decline in initial claims means is employers are laying off less workers.”
The lowest unemployment rate for central Wisconsin in April was Portage County at 6.8%. Marathon County had 7.4% unemployment. Wood County had 7.5%. Clark and Shawano were over 8%. Lincoln County had 9.7% unemployment last month. Oneida and Forest Counties were both over 10%.
The lowest unemployment in the state was 4.9% in Dane County. The highest was Menominee County with 15.6%.