Shrinking Labor Force Helps Push Wisconsin Unemployment Rate to Record Low

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was 2.8% in April, a record low for the state. Reaching that figure, however, was partially the result of having nearly 15,000 fewer people in the labor force than at the same time last year.

The number of people classified as unemployed in the state did reach a seasonally-adjusted record low of 88,100 in April, down 1,500 from March and 6,800 from April 2018.The reading is the lowest figure in data that goes back to 1976. The Department of Workforce Development released the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Thursday.

The official unemployment rate does not include people who have given up on looking for work, are marginally attached to the workforce or are employed part-time for economic reasons. Including those groups, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate averaged 5.7% from April 2018 to March 2019, according to BLS data.

Wisconsin has the seventh lowest rate in the country when using the fuller picture of unemployment.

Overall employment was up by 600 from March to April but declined 7,700 from April 2018. The result of lower unemployment and fewer people working was a drop in the labor force participation rate from 68.2% to 67.5%.