Friday, May 19, 2023

3 million jobs! 2.4% unemployment! How can we improve on that?

There were a couple of big milestones in the Wisconsin jobs market that got revealed this week.
he Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preliminary employment estimates for the month of April 2023, which showed Wisconsin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to a record low of 2.4%.

The total number of unemployed people dropped by 3,700 over the month of April and 13,300 over the year to a new record low of 72,900. In addition, total seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs increased 3,800 over the month of April and 51,500 year-over-year to hit a new record high of 3,003,600. The total jobs number puts the state 9,600 jobs above the pre-COVID-19 peak in January 2020.

Wisconsin's record low unemployment rate of 2.4% for April is down 0.1 percentage points from the March rate of 2.5%, which was the previous record low. The state's labor force participation rate increased by 0.2 percentage point over the month to 64.8%. Nationwide for the month of April, the U.S. unemployment rate was 3.4% with a labor force participation rate of 62.6%.
3 million jobs in Wisconsin!!?? First time ever for that one, and first time ever for a 2.4% unemployment.

That 2.4% unemployment rate also places Wisconsin at the lowest rate in the Midwest, one of the 10 lowest in America, and one of only 2 states out of those 10 with cities large enough to have a major pro sports franchise.

But at the same time, while 51,500 additional jobs in the last year is a very good number, the US job market has been so strong that Wisconsin is down at 40th among the states. That being said, we’re still in the middle of the pack for the Midwest.

This illustrates our challenge in the state going forward, as we pretty much have maximized our work force, and almost everyone in the work force is able to find work. But we only have so many people available, so we can’t add many more jobs.

I included these observations in a tweet I made right after the Wisconsin jobs report came out during my hour on Thursday, and got a surprising amount of response to it.

Many of the responses to my observation had a common theme - change the WisGOP Legislature and get their regressive garbage off the books.

Given that we have a new Supreme Court majority likely to hear cases about our outdated abortion law and the gerrymandered maps alter this year, perhaps we can make some progress on that front, and get a better chance of having a state whose laws match the wishes of the majority of its residents.

And with those changes and fairer maps, we might just get a better chance at encouraging people to want to live and work here, and increasing our chances at further growth instead of having Wisconsin get stuck at the limits that we seem to be at today.

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