The Department of Workforce Development announced Wednesday Wisconsin’s October unemployment rates, which stayed at 4.4 percent despite recent economic shortfalls across the nation.
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was well below the national average, but still increased slightly from last year’s average, according to a report by the DWD. The national average was 6.1 percent, up 0.1 percent from September 2008.
The seasonally adjusted Wisconsin unemployment rate for October 2008 was 5.1 percent, up 0.1 percent from September.
“There’s an expectation of what the change should be, and we look at how that change adjusts from there,” said Dennis Winters, chief of the Office of Economic Advisors for the DWD. “It can give you an indicator, so you can see how it’s going versus other years and seasons.”
However, when the real numbers came out, Wisconsin’s average was unchanged, averaging at 4.4 percent for both September and October.
Unemployment has still increased since last month. Non-farm jobs were up considerably, but private sector jobs had shrunk by 7,100 since September. The hospitality and leisure sector led with 12,400 job losses.
However, government jobs increased in October by 17,400, mostly in local government branches. The retail and wholesale trade sectors were also up 6,000 jobs since last month.
The numbers show it is too early to tell if Wisconsin will make it through this economic crunch relatively unscathed.
“It’ll be becoming a larger problem because we are in a global economic downturn,” Winters said.
Gov. Jim Doyle voiced his concerns about Wisconsin’s unemployment in a press conference Thursday.
“Nationally, we have lost in the last year 1.2 million jobs. Unfortunately, Wisconsin has not been immune from that,” Doyle said. “We’re doing much better than most other states — our unemployment rate is a full percent below the national average.”
According to the DWD, Wisconsin has lost 27,300 jobs of the 1.2 million lost nationally in the past year.
Doyle further explained factors contributing to the increase in unemployment include loss of consumer confidence and loss of the retail markets in the last year. These losses have resulted in Wisconsin losing revenue for two years straight, something that has not happened in more than 30 years.
Wisconsin may soon start to feel a harder hit from the global economic downturn.
“Right now we aren’t doing as badly because some other states have taken huge hits because of their auto industry.” Winters said. “The states that have taken big hits are going into the national average, and that is bringing it down.”
One of Wisconsin’s mainstays through the economic downturn has been the manufacturing sector, which was down by 5,700 jobs since September.
Wisconsin manufactures electric and manufacturing machinery, as well as equipment for tractors and bulldozers, which is then shipped overseas to countries in Asia to build their infrastructure.
“Some of our export markets are still doing really well,” Winters said. “That may change because the dollar has strengthened, and because of the global market downturn.”