Friday, May 17, 2024

Lots of good signs for Wisconsin's job market this week

While the US unemployment rate has slowly been inching up toward 4% in the last few months, we got more proof on Thursday that Wisconsin is going in the other direction, with our rate falling below 3.0%.
Place of Residence Data: Wisconsin's April 2024 preliminary unemployment rate fell to 2.9% from 3.0% in March. The labor force decreased 500 over the month, to 3,139,500. The number of people employed increased 600 over the month, to 3,047,700. The number of unemployed people decreased 1,300 over the month, to 91,700.

• Place of Work Data: Total nonfarm jobs increased 900 over the month and increased 24,100 over the year, to 3,035,300 in April. Wisconsin added 1,000 private sector jobs over the month, to 2,623,900 jobs.
That payrolls number would have been better than +900 if it wasn’t for a seasonally-adjusted loss of 5,100 jobs in Accommodations and Food Services. I’m not sure if that’s just a delay of seasonal hiring, or if that’s a sign of a slowing consumer here, but it’s a major difference from most other sectors in the last month.

That includes a welcome increase in manufacturing jobs (+2,000), which came after a loss of 2,600 in March. Likewise, there was a gain of 1,300 in health care/social assistance, making up for a loss of 1,100 in March as hosptials in Eau Claire closed, and we saw a seasonally-adjusted 1,200 in arts, entertainment and rec (reflecting a higher-than-normal April increase of 4,100 jobs there).

And there was even better news that came in another report, as Wisconsin is now among the leaders in inflation-adjusted wage growth.

We also saw a separate report on Friday that said Wisconsin’s job openings rose by a seasonally adjusted 23,000 between January and March (+14.4%), and was at the second-highest rate of openings in the Midwest.

In addition, seasonally adjusted layoffs dropped to a multi-month low in March, and quits have started to edge back up. All are good signs if you’re a worker looking for the ability to raise your pay.

While we need more capacity in Wisconsin in both people and housing to keep these good times rolling along, there’s also no doubt that the state’s economy was in very good shape in April 2024. And I couldn’t help but think about this situation might be getting portrayed in a Bizarro World where GOPs were in control and Wisconsin’s economy was this strong.

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