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Wisconsin Unemployment Rate Drops To 8.5 Percent In June

The National Unemployment Rate Was 11.1 Percent

Unemployment insurance claims office
Bytemarks (CC-BY)

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent in June, down from an adjusted 12.1 percent in May and well below the 11.1 percent national rate.

The numbers, compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and released Thursday by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, offered a snapshot of the state’s economy as it emerged from a partial shutdown earlier this year. Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin residents remained unemployed, but tens of thousands returned to work.

“The road to full economic recovery will be long and challenging, but the continued month-over-month progress is encouraging for Wisconsin’s workers and employers,” said DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman in a statement.

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The unemployment rate is calculated from a monthly survey of households conducted by the BLS, which is subject a high margin of error and is frequently revised. That survey showed the total number of people who were employed in Wisconsin grew by 69,700 in June.

A separate monthly survey of employers showed overall employment in Wisconsin grew by 104,600. That figure is 294,300 lower than during the same month one year ago.

This was the third monthly unemployment report issued since Wisconsin and other states issued partial shutdowns of their economies in March. Gov. Tony Evers’ administration issued its first “Safer at Home” order on March 24 followed by an extension on April 16. The state Supreme Court revoked the order on May 13.

In each report, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has been lower than the U.S. numbers, with the most pronounced disparity coming last month.

“I think part of that is the fact that Wisconsin has a higher concentration in businesses that were less affected,” said DWD chief economist Dennis Winters. “A concentration in manufacturing, where the job losses weren’t as great.”

Wisconsin’s COVID-19 cases have been on the rise recently, with the state regularly setting new daily records for positive tests reported.

Other states like California and Texas that have seen more dramatic spikes in coronavirus caseloads have reinstituted partial shutdowns. Evers has said he does not believe he has that power following the Supreme Court’s ruling.

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