Saturday, January 25, 2020

Wisconsin jobs up in December, but so is unemployment

Without much fanfare, we got the Wisconsin jobs report for December, which came out on Thursday. And it shows that we ended the year strong on the job-addition side, but not so good
– The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preliminary employment estimates for the month of December 2019. The data shows that Wisconsin added 9,800 total non-farm and 9,000 private-sector jobs in the month of December. Wisconsin's labor force participation rate in December was 67.0 percent, and the state's unemployment rate was 3.4 percent.
The seasonally-adjusted jump in jobs for December got Wisconsin above 0 for 2019 in these monthly reports, at 7,000 non-farm jobs overall, and 8,600 in the private sector. It was also nice to see jobs come back in manufacturing (+2,900) after the monthly reports had shown Wisconsin lost jobs in that sector for most of 2019 (although those losses come with caveats, which you will see below).

It's worth mentioning that December jobs numbers are often skewed out by the Holiday season, and only last for about six weeks before it and every other month in 2019 gets benchmarked to better match figures from the “gold standard” Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages (QCEW). I point this out because in March 2019, we found out that job growth in Scott Walker’s last year was overstated by more than 17,000, so take these December figures with some salt.

However, these are the figures we have for now, and they are part of the state-by-state jobs report that the Bureau of Labor Statistics put out on Friday. The Associated Press used that report to note Wisconsin’s rise in unemployment along with some other states, many of whom also were in our part of the country.
Though unemployment rates dropped throughout much of the country in 2019, more than a dozen states saw unemployment increases – and many were politically significant states in the Midwest as November's 2020 presidential election approaches.

Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Missouri are among the 13 states in which unemployment rates rose last year, according to new state employment metrics published Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Mississippi saw the biggest annual increase, as the state's unemployment rate rose from 4.7% to 5.7% – well above the national average of 3.5%. But the next-largest increases, relative to each state's unemployment rate at the end of 2018, were in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.
To be sure, in the 5 states outside of Mississippi that had the largest rises in their unemployment rate, those figures are still under the national rate, ranging from 2.7% (Iowa) to Wisconsin’s 3.4%. But those figures also indicate that perhaps many of those places have already maxed out on available workers and growth, and it’s equally noteworthy that only Nebraska had more than 10,000 jobs added in the payroll surveys for 2019.

It also continued a trend in the household survey where Wisconsin continues to have declining number of people that consider themselves employed, and in the labor force overall.

UW’s Menzie Chinn adds that one reason for the stagnation and higher unemployment in the Midwest is due to the job losses in manufacturing that I referenced earlier, which hit the three closest Obama-to-Trump Midwestern states hard in 2019.

Now to be fair, the manufacturing numbers in these states and other places may look a bit better with the March benchmarking, based on the most recent QCEW. But any manufacturing gains are likely to be offset by losses in retail jobs that have been noted by the QCEW, and have yet to show up as much in the monthly reports.

So while it's a nice payroll figure for Wisconsin for December, the continuing upward creep in unemployment is worth keeping an eye on for 2020. And I'm not sure what changes for these trends this year if there aren't more people coming to Wisconsin, and the GOP Legislature is hell-bent on preventing any significant changes to state policy.

No comments:

Post a Comment