Unemployment hits nearly five-year low

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Jim Leute
Tuesday, December 3, 2013

MADISON—The unemployment rate in the Janesville metro area decreased in October, hitting a level not seen in these parts since the fall of 2008.

Unemployment rates fell in 11 of the 12 metro areas in the state, the Department of Workforce Development reported.

The department said the October rate for Rock County—also known as the Janesville Metropolitan Statistical Area—was 6.9 percent, down from the 7.1 percent reported in September and below the 7.2 percent tallied in October 2012.

To find a lower unemployment rate would require a trip back to October 2008—the middle of the Great Recession—when the local area had unemployment of 6.6 percent.

The falling unemployment rate is a combination of new jobs being created in a metro area with a declining labor force.

In its most official form, an area's unemployment rate is the number of unemployed divided by the labor force. The number of unemployed in Rock County has been dropping dramatically while the size of the local labor force has been dwindling at a less dramatic pace.

Overall, the state unemployment rate in October was 5.7 percent, a decrease from the 5.9 percent rate posted in September and down from the 5.9 percent posted in October 2012, the department reported.

September-to-October rates decreased in all major metropolitan statistical areas, except in Racine, where the rate jumped from 7.7 percent to 7.9 percent.

Of the 32 Wisconsin cities with at least 25,000 people, unemployment rates dropped or stayed in the same in 29.

Among counties, Rock County had the 19th-highest rate, while St. Croix County had the lowest at 3.8 percent.

Walworth County had an October unemployment rate of 5.6 percent, while Green and Jefferson counties had rates of 4.7 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively. All three rates were lower than the previous month, the department reported, and rates either declined or stayed the same in 55 of the state's 72 counties.

Among individual cities, Janesville's rate of 7.6 percent in October was the seventh highest in the state.

With an October unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, Beloit had the second-highest rate among Wisconsin cities. It trailed only Racine and its October unemployment rate of 11.7 percent.

Local unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

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