CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722

On the Web:

On Facebook:

On Twitter: @WIWorkforce


MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today released the state’s Quarterly Census of Employment & Wages (QCEW) covering the fourth quarter of 2016. The QCEW data is compiled quarterly based on Unemployment Insurance records from some 96% of Wisconsin business establishments.

Highlights of the data when compared to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) published data for 2015 and previous years include:

  • Wisconsin added 179,820 private-sector jobs from December 2010 through December 2016, including an increase of 11,590 jobs over the last 12-month period.
  • The state added 172,444 total nonfarm jobs from December 2010 through December 2016, including an increase of 15,462 jobs over the last 12-month period.
  • Construction jobs grew by 21 percent from December 2010 through December 2016, holding steady over the last 12-month period with a gain of 670 jobs.

“Wisconsin added almost 180,000 private-sector jobs over the six-year period ending in December 2016 including thousands of new jobs last year,” DWD Secretary Ray Allen said. “More recent economic indicators show we’re going strong in 2017 with the unemployment rate reaching a 17-year low of 3.2 percent, more Wisconsinites employed than ever before and announcements of companies such as Haribo and Mills Fleet Farm investing and creating hundreds of additional jobs in Wisconsin. As Wisconsin works to reduce costs to do business and support a robust talent pipeline, employers can offer incentives like higher pay to attract and retain skilled workers.”

Today’s release follows the recent releases of BLS statewide and local monthly data, which showed:

  • Wisconsin has a preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.2 percent in April 2017, down a significant 0.2 percent from March and at its lowest rate since February 2000.
  • The 3.2 percent rate remains lower than the national unemployment rate, which was 4.4 percent in April 2017.
  • Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate increased 0.2 percentage points to 68.6 percent and continues to outpace the U.S. rate which decreased to 62.9 percent in April.
  • Both total labor force and employment in Wisconsin remained at all-time high in April, while the number of unemployed individuals was its lowest point since April 2000.
  • Based on preliminary data, the state added a significant 37,600 total non-farm jobs and a significant 29,300 private-sector jobs from April 2016 to April 2017.
  • Wisconsin also added 7,500 private sector jobs and a significant 14,800 total non-farm jobs from March 2017 to April 2017.
  • The unemployment rate for 44 of 72 counties reached all-time April lows in 2017.

Other indicators of the state of Wisconsin’s economy include:

  • Initial UI claims ended 2016 at their lowest level in their last 30 years. Year 2017 initial UI claims are running at the lowest in at least the past 30 years.
  • Continuing unemployment claims ended 2016 at their lowest level since 1973. Continuing unemployment claims in Wisconsin are running at the lowest in at least the past 30 years.

Every quarter, all employers covered under state or federal unemployment insurance are required to submit tax reports on monthly employment, quarterly total and taxable wages, and contributions for hourly and salaried employees. Wisconsin has nearly 160,000 business establishments employing some 2.8 million workers that are required by state and federal statutes to submit this information to DWD. DWD sends the data to the BLS, which incorporates the information when it publishes the QCEW.

Wisconsin has received the BLS’s sign-off on state data covering the fourth quarter of 2016 and is posting the fourth-quarter data on its WORKnet site. The BLS will incorporate the data in its next QCEW release scheduled for June 7. Information about the QCEW, including data for the 2015 quarters and first three quarters of 2016, can be accessed through the BLS website at

The QCEW is a comprehensive count of jobs, as it includes reports from nearly all Wisconsin employers. This data series is distinct from the Current Employment Statistics (CES), which estimates jobs based on response to a survey of roughly 5,500 employers (3.5 percent of Wisconsin businesses) and is released in preliminary form each month.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email