Wisconsin jobs recovery falters in March as pandemic lingers

By: - April 15, 2021 7:22 pm
"Unemployment" by Philippe Lhote picturing a mural of headless workers in uniform on the wall of an abandoned factory in Völklingen, Germany

“Unemployment” by Philippe Lhote picturing a mural on an abandoned factory in Völklingen, Germany CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Wisconsin unemployment rate leveled out at 3.8% in March, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) reported Thursday, but still higher than the state’s pre-pandemic rate a year ago.

While the state’s March jobless rate was well below the national rate of 6%, it was unchanged from February, evidence of a slowing recovery in the battle to come back from the depths of the COVID-19-induced downturn.

In March 2020, just before the widespread layoffs that the pandemic triggered, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was 3.2%.

Wisconsin employers reported 129,000 fewer jobs in March 2021 compared with March 2020, including a deficit of 98,300 jobs in the private sector. Half of the shortfall was in the leisure and hospitality sector, including restaurants, recreation and entertainment, where there were 47,600 fewer positions than a year ago. Education and health care had 18,600 fewer jobs, DWD reported.

Manufacturing in durable goods — machinery, automobiles and appliances among other products — was down 10,400 jobs compared with March 2020, but an increase of 3,700 jobs in nondurable goods manufacturing offset some of the loss for the sector as a whole.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Erik Gunn
Erik Gunn

Senior Reporter 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.