Employment, Unemployment Both Rising
In April, number of people in state working rose by 7,100 even as unemployment rate rose.
Wisconsin job growth was tepid in April, with employment opportunities rising but also more people entering the labor force, according to the state Department of Workforce Development (DWD).
While the state has recovered a substantial number of the jobs that were lost in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, employment remains below the pre-pandemic peak in February 2020, DWD reported.
“Unemployment grew because more people came into the labor market than were taken out of it by work,” said Laura Dresser, associate director of COWS, a research and policy organization at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Although very small from March to April, she said the growth suggests that “people are being drawn back into work.”
The state’s job numbers continue to catch up to levels before the COVID-19 pandemic, but remain about 4% below the last pre-pandemic report in February 2020.
Wisconsin job gains in April over March this year were modest, while compared with a year ago they were much more pronounced. Leisure and hospitality jobs — the hardest sector hit in the first phase of the pandemic, when bars, restaurants and other public places were closed — increased by 94,800 in April 2021 compared with April 2020. But the sector remained 17% below its pre-pandemic strength.
Government jobs, another sector that shrank sharply in the pandemic, have similarly increased slightly month to month, almost entirely in local government. But they remain nearly 7.7% behind February 2020.
“It will take a sense of safety, or a sense of the quality of the job, of a lot of kids going back to school or child care centers opening to put people in the same relationship to work that they were in before the pandemic,” Dresser said.
Reprinted with permission of Wisconsin Examiner.