Growth in jobs, employment takes a break in October for Wisconsin

By: - November 18, 2022 2:50 pm
Mural depicting workers

Mural depicting workers painted on windows of the Madison-Kipp Corp. by Goodman Community Center students and Madison-Kipp employees with Dane Arts Mural Arts. (Erik Gunn | Wisconsin Examiner)

Wisconsin had almost 59,000 more jobs in October than a year earlier, according to the state labor department, but job numbers crept down slightly from September.

The state’s unemployment rate inched up for the month, while labor force participation inched down, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) reported. Department labor economists said they couldn’t pinpoint what was driving those changes.

The number of construction jobs reached 135,800 in October, a new high for Wisconsin, and an increase of 8,900 from a year ago. Much of that is in housing, both multifamily and single-family residences, said Dennis Winters, chief economist at DWD, in a virtual news briefing Thursday. Manufacturing jobs increased by 5,300 in the last year, to 475,300.

The jobs trends are based on a survey of employers, one of two sets of surveys used to compile the monthly employment statistics. Overall, Wisconsin employers 2.95 million jobs in October, a dip of about 2,200 jobs from September and an increase of more 58,800 jobs from October 2021.

Based on a survey of households there were 17,700 fewer people working in October than in September, and 39,300 fewer working in October 2022 than in October 2021. The total labor force — people working or actively seeking work — also shrank, by 15,600 from September and by 36,600 from October of last year. 

As a result, labor force participation was down from 65.6% of the adult population in September and down from 66.4% of the adult population in October 2021 to 65.3% of the adult population in October 2022. That remained more than 3 percentage points ahead of the national labor force participation, which was 62.2%.

While the national unemployment rate for October 2022 was 3.7%, in Wisconsin the unemployment rate ticked up to 3.3% in October. It was 3.2% in September 2022 and also in October 2021. 

“We don’t expect that to change much,” Winters said, “because the labor force is pretty flat. And we’re still adding jobs.”

Winters said new unemployment claims remained at historic lows, suggesting that despite data showing jobs had slipped and people were leaving the workforce, “people aren’t getting laid off.” Low continued unemployment insurance claims also suggest that people collecting unemployment compensation weren’t doing so for long, but returning to work instead, he said.


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Erik Gunn
Erik Gunn

Deputy Editor Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, health policy and related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.