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Area unemployment rates lower than year ago

According to preliminary March 2013 figures announced by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development this week, unemployment rates in Pierce and St. Croix counties are lower than they were a year ago.

Pierce County's March rate was estimated at 5.9% as compared to 6.4% a year ago.

St. Croix County's rate was estimated at 6.1%, which is lower than February's rate of 6.7% and the same as January's rate. One year ago, the county's unemployment rate was estimated at 6.3%.

DWD said all 72 Wisconsin counties had rate decreases between February and March, except for Iron and Rusk, which both experienced 0.4% increases. Year over year, 36 counties had rate decreases and seven had no change.

Of Wisconsin's 32 municipalities with a population of least 25,000 residents, all had rate decreases between February and March. Year over year, 17 municipalities had a rate decrease, four had no change, and 11 increased.

In March only two counties had lower unemployment rates than Pierce and only five had lower rates than St. Croix.

Dane had the lowest rate in the state at 5.1%, followed by La Crosse (5.7%), Pierce (5.9%), Calumet (6.0%), Ozaukee (also at 6.0%) and St. Croix (6.1%). Menominee (14.6%) had the highest unemployment rate in the state, followed by Iron (14.2%), Sawyer (13.3%), Vilas (13.3%), Bayfield (13.3%).

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin's Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to the March rates for St. Croix and Pierce, Dunn's rate was 7.0% (down from 7.5%) and Polk's rate was 9.3% (down from 9.8%). Year over year, St. Croix, Pierce, and Polk had lower unemployment rates. Dunn's rate is higher than one year ago.

The 13-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area reported an unemployment rate of 5.3% in March. One year ago, the unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 6.0%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in March was estimated at 7.1%. The final rate for February was also 7.1%. One year ago, the state's seasonally adjusted rate was 6.9%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota for March was estimated at 5.4%. Minnesota's seasonally adjusted rate was 5.7% one year ago.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. in March was estimated at 7.6%, compared to February's final rate of 7.7%. One year ago the U.S. rate was estimated at 8.2%.

March's estimates are preliminary and are subject to revision within the next few weeks.