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WI’s unemployment rate remains at historic low levels, under 3 percent for 5th consecutive month

MADISON – Today, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) released the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revisions for May 2018 and preliminary estimates for June covering the employment and job statistics for the state of Wisconsin.  The number of people employed in Wisconsin as well as the number of active participants in the state’s labor force reached record highs in June, and the data showed that Wisconsin gained both total non-farm (+7,400) and private-sector (+5,500) jobs from May 2018 to June, and a significant 17,600 manufacturing jobs over the year. Since December 2010, Wisconsin has added over 48,000 manufacturing positions. May 2018 data was revised, from a loss of 4,700 total non-farm jobs to a gain of 100, and a loss of 5,300 private-sector jobs to a loss of 800. Wisconsin’s labor force increased by 3,300 people over the month, bringing the number of active participants in Wisconsin’s labor force to 3,092,100. This increase in active job seekers contributed to the slight increase in Wisconsin’s unemployment rate, from a record low of 2.8 percent in April and May to 2.9 percent in June. For the first time in state history, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has remained under 3.0 percent for five consecutive months.

In brief, the seasonally adjusted estimates show:

  • Place of Residence Data: Wisconsin’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June 2018 increased slightly from the record-low of 2.8 percent in April and May, to 2.9 percent in June, due to 3,300 individuals entering the labor force. Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate remained at 68.9 percent in June, a full 6 percentage points higher than the national rate of 62.9 percent. A significant 41,500 more people were employed in June 2018 when compared to June 2017. Wisconsin again set a new state record for number of people employed in June 2018, with 3,092,100 people employed.

  • Place of Work Data: From June 2017 to June 2018, Wisconsin added 25,900 private-sector jobs, a significant 30,000 total non-farm jobs and a significant 17,600 manufacturing jobs. Over the month, Wisconsin added 5,500 private sector jobs and 7,400 total non-farm jobs. Through the first six months of 2018, Wisconsin has added 12,100 manufacturing jobs.

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

“Wisconsin continues to add jobs, which means more opportunities for Wisconsin job seekers,” Secretary Allen said. “Over 3,000 individuals entered the labor force from May 2018 to June, growing the pool of available workers to fill some of the 90,000-plus job openings available on Although the unemployment rate ticked up slightly from the record low rate of 2.8 percent that we experienced in April and May, it increased for the right reason – Wisconsinites are excited about the career opportunities that are being created by new and existing employers throughout the state and entering the labor force.”

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, nothing 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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