Saturday, September 16, 2023

Wisconsin jobs and unemployment up in August

We got another update on the Wisconsin jobs market situation this week, and it gave an odd mixture of information.
Place of Residence Data: Wisconsin's unemployment rate was 2.9% in August. The number of unemployed people increased 8,400 over the month and decreased 5,400 over the year to 89,500. The labor force gained 8,800 workers over the month for a total labor force of 3,133,500. The number of Wisconsinites employed increased 300 in August for a total of 3,044,000 employed.

• Place of Work Data: Total nonfarm jobs increased 5,700 in August to a new high of 3,012,400, an annual increase of 32,800. Private sector jobs increased by 6,600 over the month and 34,300 over the year. Healthcare and social assistance jobs grew 2,600 over the month and 12,900 over the year
Nice spin on that "number of unemployed" number. What's not mentioned is that the state's unemployment rate went up, from 2.6% to 2.9%, because very few of the new entrants to the state's work force were able to find jobs last month.

That resulted in a sizable increase of Wisconsinites identifying as "unemployed", reversing the downward trend that we had for the first few months of 2023.

But we are still in a strong position for the state's job market overall. And on the payrolls side of the report, we hit another all-time high for jobs. It continued a steady rise in state payrolls that we've seen for pretty much the entire Biden Presidency.

And as the release mentions, health care led the way in job growth, much as it has done for the country as a whole. It is the largest growth sector over the last year in Wisconsin (+12,900 jobs), and accounts for almost 40% of Wisconsin's overall job growth over that time period. But construction also had a leap of 2,000 (seasonally adjusted) jobs in August, and more than 11,000 construction jobs added since the Biden stimulus bill was signed in March 2021.

But much like the rest of the country, manufacturing jobs are falling behind. Wisconsin lost jobs in that sector again in August, and has less people working in that part of the economy now than we did this time last year.

So keep an eye on that one, especially as the Fed continues to keep interest rates (excessively) high.

Yes, the higher unemployment rate in Wisconsin is worth keeping track of, to see if that continues and/or accelerates for the rest of 2023. But with job growth remaining steady and unemployment still being under 3%, I think we're still in a very good place, and we should try to continue it as much as we can.

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