Wisconsin lost 2,200 jobs last month, largely due to fewer jobs in the health and social care sector, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. , released Thursday by the state’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD).
Still, preliminary numbers indicate the state created 58,800 non-farm jobs in the past year. And Dennis Winters, the agency’s top labor economist, said he didn’t yet see signs that a recession was underway.
“Wisconsin is in a pretty good position all around,” Winters said.
He pointed to the state’s unemployment and labor force participation figures as evidence. In Wisconsin, the unemployment rate fell from 3.2% in September to 3.3% in October, but remained below the national October average of 3.5%. The state’s labor force participation rate fell from 65.6% to 65.3%, but remained higher than the national figure of 62.2%.
The state has lost 4,200 jobs in health care and social assistance, a category that includes everyone from nurses and home health aides to counselors and child care workers.
Meanwhile, other major sub-sectors of the economy continued to create jobs. Manufacturing and construction each added 1,800 jobs, pushing the construction sector to a record high of 135,800 jobs. Another 2,400 jobs were added in professional, scientific and technical services, a category that includes a variety of white-collar jobs.
The state has also created 1,100 jobs in transportation, warehousing and utilities, including employees who pack and ship online orders at retailers like Amazon.
“Other than health care and social services, (jobs) would have increased and almost all industries are showing gains,” Winters said, referring to results from the federal monthly survey of employers in various industries.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Household Survey, which asks Wisconsin residents about their employment status, found that the number of people working in Wisconsin has fallen over the past month and l ‘last year. Likewise, the number of people in the labor force – that is, those working or looking for work – has declined over the past month and year. But Winters attributed the decline to habitual fluctuations.
The biggest problem, he said, is that the state’s workforce has been “pretty stable” for about a decade due to an aging population and a flood of baby boomers reaching retirement age.
In recent months, as wages for some workers have skyrocketed, some have been able to quit second jobs, Winters said. Others might have dropped out of the workforce if their partners had gotten big raises, especially if they were previously paying childcare costs that cost almost as much as they earned. “It might not be worth it,” Winters said.
Although many fear a recession is looming, Winters notes that it would be some time before such a change appears in the employment figures. If so, it would typically take the form of higher unemployment, fewer people employed, “pretty large” declines in the number of jobs reported in the employer survey and an increase in the number of people applying. for Unemployment Insurance – a figure that is currently at an all-time high for this time of year in Wisconsin.
“So far, we haven’t seen that anywhere,” Winters said.
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