Monday, March 13, 2023

New jobs numbers show Wisconsin doing even better, but also hitting our limits

Late last week, we got some updated data on the jobs market in Wisconsin. And much like with the country as a whole, jobs kept coming in and unemployment is staying at or near record lows.
The Department of Workforce Development (DWD)...released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preliminary employment estimates for the month of January 2023, which showed Wisconsin added 4,100 nonfarm jobs over the month and 55,800 jobs over the year.

The data also showed that Wisconsin's unemployment rate fell to 2.9% for January, down 0.1 percentage point from the revised 3% in December 2022. The state's labor force participation rate for January was 64.5%. Nationwide for the month of January, the unemployment rate was 3.4% with a labor force participation rate of 62.4%.
Pretty good situation to be in, to be sure.

The reason we didn't find out about January's state jobs numbers until last week is because of the annual benchmarking for state figures, which follows data from the "gold standard" Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). Those figures run through the end of September, and came out on a statewide level in late February. With a year's worth of revisions, we can get a more accurate look at where our jobs market has been, and is at today.

What we find is that Wisconsin did not have the losses that were initially reported for the end of 2021, and instead jobs went up by nearly 29,000 between July 2021 and January 2022. After while January gains were revised down slightly (by 5,000), we still added nearly 57,000 jobs last year. And we are well ahead of where we thought we were with the original data.

The household survey that translates into the unemployment rate also was given benchmark revisions with January's survey, and those revisions indicate that Wisconsin's labor force peaked at a lower level than we originally thought, which means we didn't see as many dropouts from the work force as we thought.

Those revisions also indicate that even fewer Wisconsinites were out of work in 2022 than we thought, and was back on the decline as the year ended.

So our workforce capacity in Wisconsin may well be even more maxed out than we thought, which means that we need to find ways to get more people into the state and the work force in order to keep growth going.

Which makes it all the more absurd that the "business leaders" at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce are throwing millions of dollars behind Dan Kelly's Supreme Court campaign. How is supporting a "Justice" who would continue the state's abortion ban, let polluters and exploitive firms do wahtever they want without punishment, and uphold gerrymandered maps that keep regressive Republicans in power attractive to potential workers in any way?

The LAST thing we need is more of the WisGOP status quo agenda that isn't favored by the majority of Wisconsinites, and is repellent to others that might want to come here. As these revised employment figures show, Wisconsin has already had a strong recovery from the COVID cutbacks, but we are now at a new stage where we need to boost the number of people that are living and working here. If not, we will not be able to grow much more, and will stagnate while other places keep growing.

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