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Wisconsin job market remains strong despite worries over economy

With record number of Wisconsinites employed, unemployment remains near historic low

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A man walks past a "Now Hiring" sign on a window at Sherwin Williams store
A man walks past a “Now Hiring” sign on a window at Sherwin Williams store, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Woodmere Village, Ohio. Tony Dejak/AP Photo

Rising interest rates and a sharp decline on Wall Street has raised fears about the economy. But Wisconsin’s job market remained strong in May.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, the number of Wisconsinites who are working hit a historic high of 3.06 million in May. The unemployment rate for the month was 2.9 percent, up slightly from April. New claims for unemployment insurance benefits also neared record lows.

Dennis Winters, chief economist for the department, spoke to reporters Thursday about what the economic data means for the state.

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“We’ve got record high employment, we’ve got essentially record low unemployment, we’ve got nearly low UI claims, GDP is growing. So this all sits pretty well with the state of the economy,” Winters said.

He said he believes unemployment will remain low as the percentage of Wisconsin’s labor force has increased for six consecutive months.

One of the major concerns among employers continues to be the ability to find qualified workers. According to Winters, companies in the state have not only raised wages to try to attract workers, but have added incentives like company-provided day care, flexible shifts and housing subsidies.

“Employment is expected to continue to gain, so you keep maintaining that low unemployment rate,” he said. “So we’ll probably stay down here near historical lows for the foreseeable future.”

But fears about the overall U.S. economy remain. The S&P 500 closed down 3.2 percent as investors reacted to rising interest rates.

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