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Rock County unemployment rate falls

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JAMES P. LEUTE
May 27, 2010
— Rock County's unemployment rate improved dramatically in April, dropping to its lowest level in 16 months.

The state's Department of Workforce Development reported Wednesday that Rock County added 300 jobs from March to April, resulting in a drop in the county's unemployment rate from 12.8 percent to 11 percent.


Rock County, also known as the Janesville-Beloit Metropolitan Statistical Area, joined the 11 other MSAs in Wisconsin in posting declines in unemployment rates. Only Fond du Lac posted an improvement larger than the Janesville area.


"We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but these numbers are yet another sign that recovery is underway," DWD Secretary Roberta Gassman said. "Every major region in Wisconsin gained jobs in April, showing that this recovery is broad in scope."


At 11 percent, the Janesville area is now the only MSA in Wisconsin with double-digit unemployment.


The local employment gain comes as many local dislocated workers continue to exhaust their unemployment benefits.


The state continues to mail letters to dislocated workers notifying them that their 99 weeks of unemployment benefits will end in the near future.


Since February, the state has mailed an average of 60 such letters to Rock County addresses. In May alone, more than 550 county residents received the letters.


DWD spokesman Dick Jones said the number of people losing their benefits does not affect the local unemployment rate. It is a mistake, he said, to assume that people dropping off unemployment compensation rolls would artificially improve an area's unemployment rate.


The monthly rate, he said, is based on household and employer data and not solely on unemployment claims.


Among Wisconsin cities, Beloit continues to have the highest unemployment rate of 16.8 percent. That's down from 18.3 percent in March and from the 17.5 percent posted in April 2009.


At 11.3 percent, Janesville has the sixth highest rate in the state. The city's March rate was 13 percent, while the April 2009 rate was 14.7 percent.



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