Graham Kilmer

Wisconsin Unemployment at 5.4%

Service industry sees job gains.

By - Oct 15th, 2020 05:38 pm
On March 19th, the downtown Milwaukee Punch Bowl Social laid off 91 employees. Photo by Jennifer Rick.

On March 19th, the downtown Milwaukee Punch Bowl Social laid off 91 employees. Photo by Jennifer Rick.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.6% in September, 2.6 points lower than the national unemployment rate.

According to a report from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), the state added nearly 24,000 jobs in September.

The DWD report shows there were still 169,400 unemployed people last month, up 62,300 from a year ago when the unemployment rate was 3.5%.

Like job gains nationally, the state’s service industry is where the majority of new jobs came from, most of them in the foodservice and accommodation sector. But the state’s service industry is still down nearly 154,000 jobs from where it was a year ago, and the foodservice and accommodation sector is down more than 53,000 jobs.

Also similar to what is occurring nationally, the labor force participation rate in the state continues to drop. This means that there are more people 16 or older that are no longer working or actively looking for work.

And despite the improvement in the unemployment rate, the numbers for initial unemployment claims for the state, and nationally, show that the number of people applying for some type of unemployment assistance is holding steady.

In the past seven days, Wisconsin has seen 18,744 new unemployment claims. And, nationally, there were 898,000 initial unemployment claims last week, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which is higher than the previous week.

There were 372,381 claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance across the U.S. This program is for people that don’t qualify for traditional state unemployment insurance. Added to the claims for traditional unemployment and the country is still seeing weekly new unemployment claims over 1 million, as it has since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, a concerning trend Urban Milwaukee highlighted last week, is getting worse. The number of people applying for Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation (PEUC), is rising faster than it was the previous week. This program is for people that have exhausted their traditional unemployment benefits. So people filing these claims are experiencing long-term unemployment.

The latest numbers for PEUC are from the week of September 26th. During that week, there were 2.8 million people that were actively claiming PEUC, up from just under 2 million the week before. The number of claimants in this program has been steadily rising since the summer, but this is one of the biggest jumps in a single week.

Read the DWD report here. And the DOL report here.

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Categories: Economics, Health

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