Saturday, November 28, 2015

October jobs "boom" in Wisconsin not felt in many places

I've expressed skepticism regarding last week's report from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development of 16,100 total jobs and 15,100 jobs being added in Wisconsin for October. And we got a follow-up note on that report on Wednesday that also makes me cock an eyebrow, this time in the form of the local jobs and unemployment rate report.

This new DWD report showed the alleged jobs gains in the state were heavily concentrated in only a few areas of the state. Also worth noting is that (for some reason) they can't give specific seasonally-adjusted numbers for the growing Madison area, because Green County was added for that MSA in the last year.

Seasonally-adjusted change in jobs, Wisconsin Oct 2015
Milwaukee-WOW Counties +6,900
Non-Madison metro areas +200
Rest of state + Madison area +9,000

In fact, 5 of the state's 12 metro areas lost jobs in October, which wouldn't be something you'd expect if the state was really booming. And then I looked over at the non-seasonally adjusted numbers, which do include the Madison MSA, and the numbers get even odder.

Non-seasonally adjusted change in jobs, Wisconsin, Oct 2015
Milwaukee-WOW Counties +10,300
Madison metro area +5,200
Non-Madison, Milwaukee metros +6,100
Rest of state +5,200

So nearly 58% of the state's raw growth in jobs for October was in the two largest metropolitan areas (who account for around 43% of the state's total jobs). The high number of jobs in the non-metro "rest of the state" category is also intriguing, as many rural areas in Northern Wisconsin lose jobs this time of year as the weather cools and tourism season ends. This fact is underscored by the fact that 8 of the top 9 counties for (non-seasonally adjusted) unemployment in October were located north of Highway 29, and 6 of those 8 saw their unemployment rates go up last month while the state's non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate went down.

So let's see how these figures shake out in the next couple of months, as the seasonal adjustments level out. The large amount of mass layoffs and lower-than-projected revenues seem to belie the numbers that indicate job growth boomed in Wisconsin for October, and I'm very interested in seeing what happens as a large amount of data comes in over the next few weeks to see which direction wins out.


  1. My guess? Seasonal temp jobs got a head start this year. There’s a higher need for that line of work in the metro areas than elsewhere. This is just a hunch though, so no supporting evidence.

    1. Interesting theory. Combine that with the fact that it was a record-warm October in Wisconsin, and it could have prevented some seasonal layoffs that usually happen further downstate.

      I've gotta go back and look at the sectors and see if that may be some of what's going on. It would make for a worse November, if true