Unemployment rates better than 2011Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Reginald J. Newson announced the preliminary February unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties on March 28. St. Croix County’s rate was estimated at 6.8 percent, rising for the third consecutive month, but still lower than last year's 7.6 percent rate.
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Reginald J. Newson announced the preliminary February unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties on March 28. St. Croix County’s rate was estimated at 6.8 percent, rising the third consecutive month. St. Croix’s January rate was reported at 6.1 percent and the December rate was 5.0 percent, while November’s rate was 4.9 percent. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 7.6 percent.
Only seven counties had lower unemployment rates than St. Croix in February. All 10 counties in west central and northwest Wisconsin experienced rate increases from January to February. Eau Claire County has the lowest rate in the region at 6.5 percent (fourth lowest in the state) and Pierce is next at 6.7 percent (sixth lowest).
“In nearly every county and community, unemployment rates are lower than a year ago,” said Secretary Newson. “We expect further improvement as the hiring season progresses. We know from employer surveys and our online job site that employers have jobs available. We and our workforce partners are ready to help job seekers and employers connect.”
Compared to February 2011, DWD said 68 of the state’s 72 counties had lower unemployment rates, two counties had no change and two had increases. Sixty-six counties had higher rates in February than January, while three had no change and three had higher rates. All 12 metropolitan areas across the state had lower unemployment rates in February 2012 than February 2011. Of Wisconsin’s 32 municipalities with a population of least 25,000 residents, 27 had rate increases over the month, while 31 had decreases when compared to February 2011.
Dane (5.2 percent), Calumet (6.0 percent), La Crosse (6.0 percent), Eau Claire (6.5 percent), Ozaukee (6.5 percent), Pierce (6.7 percent), and Waukesha (6.7 percent) counties had unemployment rates lower than St. Croix in February. Door County had the highest rate in February at 13.8 percent, followed by Bayfield (13.6 percent), Menominee (13.0 percent), Vilas (12.6 percent), and Sawyer (12.6 percent).
St. Croix, Pierce, Polk counties comprise Wisconsin’s St. Croix Valley. Pierce County’s unemployment rate for February was 6.7 percent (up from the January rate of 6.1 percent and December’s final rate of 5.1 percent). Polk’s rate also increased from 9.5 percent to 9.9 percent. Polk’s rate for December 2011 was 7.7 percent.
The 13-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area reported an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent in February compared to 5.9 percent in January and 5.5 percent in December. Both St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the federal definition of the 13-county Twin Cities metro area. One year ago, the unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 6.9 percent.
The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in February was estimated at 6.9 percent, which is the same rate as January but down from December’s final rate of 7.0 percent. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 7.6 percent.
The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota for February was estimated at 5.7 percent compared to the January rate 5.6 percent and December’s rate of 5.7 percent. Minnesota’s seasonally adjusted rate was 6.7 percent one year ago.
The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. in February was estimated at 8.3 percent, which is the same rate as January but down from December’s rate of 8.5 percent. One year ago the U.S. rate was estimated at 9.0 percent.
February’s estimates are preliminary and are subject to revision within the next few weeks.