Wisconsin’s unemployment rate ties record low

State's economy adds 20K private sector jobs in February

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A red "Now Hiring!" sign located in a grassy field near a county road instructs potential applicants to apply outside.
A sign is posted outside of Klondike Cheese Factory on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Monroe, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

More people in Wisconsin are working — and fewer people unemployed — than before the pandemic began in 2020, according to a report released this week from the state Department of Workforce Development.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate fell to 2.9 percent in February, tying a record low for the state. Private-sector employers added more than 20,000 jobs over the month.

Dennis Winters, chief economist for the department, said the state’s recovery is mirroring what’s happening nationwide, and noted the restaurant and hospitality industries and manufacturing are seeing some of the biggest job growth.

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“Which tells us two things,” he said. “That the economy is growing and services are being demanded and the leisure and hospitality industry is opening up.”

Wisconsin’s workforce participation rate in February remained unchanged from January at 66.4 percent. That number shows the percentage of working-age people in the state either working or actively looking for work. That’s 4.1 percentage points higher than the national rate of 62.3 percent.

Winters said jobs data shows the number of people working part-time has declined. He said that may be because pay increases driven by worker shortages are allowing people to give up extra work.

“With higher wages in a lot of jobs there may not be necessity to work a second part-time job,” he said.

It’s unclear how long the growth in the job market will continue. Winters said global unrest caused by the war in Ukraine and supply line issues could affect the economy — and employment — in the coming months.

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