October unemployment drops, jobs increase, although numbers are modest

The number of available Wisconsin workers remains small as people leave the labor force

Wisconsin’s jobless rate fell and employment rose in October, the state labor department reported Thursday, but a continuing gap between employers’ need for workers and the number of people available to work for them is likely to persist in the years to come.

It’s a demographic cliff that labor market experts have been warning about for years before the pandemic, but one that appears to have worsened as COVID-19 has prompted people to leave the workforce perhaps sooner than they otherwise might have.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.2% in October, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD). The department also reported a revised unemployment rate for September of 3.4% instead of 3.9% as originally reported for the month — a result of new calculations from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Wisconsin added 2,000 private sector jobs in October when statistics are adjusted for seasonal changes in the labor market. Government jobs, however, decreased by 3,000.

Using seasonally adjusted data, DWD counted 100,600 Wisconsin residents in October who were unemployed — meaning that they were actively seeking work but hadn’t been hired. That’s 4,700 fewer than in September, the agency reported.

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