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Contact: Terry Ludeman, 608/267-3262
FEBRUARY UNEMPLOYMENT RATES RELEASED
MADISON – Wisconsin’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 5.8 percent in February, up from January’s final rate of 5.2 percent, according to figures released today by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD). The national unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in February, down one-tenth from January.
"Wisconsin experienced both job gain and higher unemployment last month, even as economists talk about signs of recovery," said DWD Secretary Jennifer Reinert. "The job market, as it typically does following a recession, is lagging behind the recovery," she said.
The total number of jobs in Wisconsin’s nonfarm wage and salary economy was estimated at 2,758,700 in February compared to 2,752,400 in January, a gain of 6,300. This is slightly behind the average gain of 9,600 since 1994. Job gains were reported in services and in government, as students and faculty from colleges and school districts returned after the New Year’s holiday season.
Job losses in February occurred in the construction industry, where job figures were down 2,300; in the manufacturing industry, where job losses were estimated at 2,200; and in trade, where job losses were estimated at 6,200. Transportation, communications and utilities also experienced a loss of 400 jobs; and finance, insurance and real estate reported a job loss of 100.
State economist Terry Ludeman said that Wisconsin, with its notoriously unpredictable winters, rarely experiences recovery in the winter months. There were 204,000 workers out of work in Wisconsin in February compared to 177,100 in January and 159,147 in February of 2001.
Ludeman said the higher unemployment rates in February do not appear to be related to increased layoffs since new claims for unemployment appear to be leveling off somewhat. Initial claims for unemployment averaged 18,834 per week in the first five weeks of 2002 compared to 15,260 per week for the second five-week period. Meanwhile, continued unemployment claims have also decreased from an average of 127,795 per week during the first five weeks of 2002 to 121,835 during the second five-week period.
"As talk of economic recovery becomes more widespread, many job seekers become more active, leading to higher unemployment levels even though there are signs of recovery," Ludeman said.
Reinert said that thousands of displaced workers were being helped by the Governor’s leadership in getting extended unemployment benefits for Wisconsin workers ahead of the rest of the nation.
Approximately 20,000 displaced Wisconsin workers filed for extended unemployment benefits the first week they were available – one week before workers in other states could receive them under federal extended benefits.
Note to news media
County employment and unemployment figures for February should be available on March 27, 2002. This release is available on the department Internet site: http://www.dwd.state.wi.us/lmi
|Division of Administrative Services |
Content Contact: Terry Ludeman