Graham Kilmer

Wisconsin Unemployment Drops to 5%

But the state still lost thousands of jobs last month.

By - Dec 23rd, 2020 05:27 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 went down in November, but so did the number of jobs in the state.

The unemployment rate for the state was 5%, according to the Department of Workforce Development. This was a drop from the October unemployment rate of 6%. But the state also lost approximately 4,900 jobs last month.

The state’s labor force participation rate, which is a measure of the percentage of the available workforce that is either employed or actively seeking employment, also dropped in November from 67.4% to 66.9 percent.

The state’s service sector lost 8,700 jobs. The retail industry experienced the biggest job losses last month compared to the rest of the service sector, losing 5,200 jobs. These losses occur when accounting for the industry’s seasonal changes in employment, which is the huge rush on retail experienced around the holidays.

Last week there were 803,000 initial unemployment claims in the U.S, and 20,040 in Wisconsin.

There were 397,511 claims for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA), which provides unemployment assistance to people that are not eligible for traditional state unemployment insurance. Taken together with regular unemployment claims, there were more than 1 million new unemployment claims last week.

According to numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor, there were nearly 20 times as many people filing weekly claims for unemployment aid in the beginning of December as there were at the same time in 2019. As of December 5th, there were more than 20 million people claiming some type of unemployment assistance.

Nationally, there were 4,793,230 people claiming Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) as of December 5th. It’s a federal program for people that have run out of traditional state unemployment insurance. Because of this, it has been a somewhat reliable indicator of the level of long-term unemployment — 26 weeks or more — in the country.

Read the DWD unemployment report here. Read the labor department report here.

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