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WI Unemployment rate holds at 2.9 percent, under 3 percent for sixth consecutive month


MADISON – Today, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) released the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revisions for June 2018 and preliminary estimates for July covering the employment and job statistics for the state of Wisconsin.  Wisconsin added a statistically significant 38,500 private sector jobs from July 2017 to July 2018, with 21,300 jobs added in the state’s robust manufacturing industry over the same time period.  The state’s historically low unemployment rate remained at 2.9 percent, the sixth consecutive month that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate remained below 3 percent.  Prior to 2018, Wisconsin never had a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate below 3 percent.  The state’s labor force participation rate also remained at 68.9 percent.

The state added 9,100 private sector jobs and 8,700 total non-farm jobs from June 2018 to July.  One-month gains were significant in durable goods (+2,400) and Health Care and Social Assistance (+2,800).

In brief, the seasonally adjusted estimates show:

  • Place of Residence Data:  Wisconsin’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 2.9 percent in July, up slightly from the record low of 2.8 percent experienced in April and May of 2018.  Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate remained at 68.9 percent in July, 6 percentage points higher than the national rate.

  • Place of Work Data: From July 2017 to July 2018, Wisconsin added a statistically significant 38,500 private-sector and 21,300 manufacturing jobs, as defined by BLS.  Wisconsin also added 9,100 private-sector jobs, 8,700 total non-farm jobs and 2,500 manufacturing jobs from June 2018 to July.

DWD Secretary Ray Allen released the following statement about today’s report:

“With 38,500 private-sector jobs added from July 2017 to July 2018, 28,400 of which have been added in the first seven months of 2018, Wisconsin’s economic momentum continues and even with historically low unemployment, key industry sectors like manufacturing continue to add jobs,” Secretary Allen said.  “At DWD we administer many worker training programs that can help get individuals, no matter their talent level and employment history, off the sidelines and into gainful employment.  I encourage all job seekers to contact their local job center or visit the state’s website and get on the path to a family supporting career.”

The BLS uses three data sets to measure employment and unemployment:

  • Current Employment Statistics (CES): compiled from a monthly survey sent to about 5,500 employers (3.5% of Wisconsin employers). CES data has been shown to be subject to significant revision.
  • Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS): compiled from a monthly survey of 985 households and unemployment insurance claims. Measures the labor force, employment, unemployment, and the unemployment rate.
  • Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW): compiled on a quarterly basis from Unemployment Insurance records from some 96 percent of Wisconsin business establishments. Considered by most economists to be the most accurate measure of jobs, the QCEW includes data from almost all employers in Wisconsin.

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

  • Initial UI claims ended 2017 at their lowest level in the last 30 years.
  • Continuing unemployment claims ended 2017 at their lowest level since 1973.
  • Moody’s investor Service upgraded the state’s credit rating, noting that “(T)he stable outlook reflects the expectation that the state will experience moderate economic growth and will continue its prudent fiscal management practices.”

Today’s full report can be viewed on

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