DWD: Year over year jobless rates drop in 12 metro areas

But all report higher rates than in January

Sixty-eight Wisconsin counties, 31 large municipalities, and all 12 metro areas experienced a drop in unemployment rates over the year as of February 2012, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary data released today by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

“In nearly every county and community, unemployment rates are lower than a year ago,” DWD Secretary Reggie Newson said in a press release. “We expect further improvement as the hiring season progresses. We know from employer surveys and our online job site that employers have jobs available.”

All 12 metro areas had lower rates in February than the same month a year ago, but higher rates than in January of 2012. Wausau saw its unemployment rate jump a whole percentage point, from 9.7% to 10.7% from January to February, while Stevens Point's unemployment rate increased from 8.5% to 9.1%, and West Bend's unemployment rate rose from 10% to 10.6%.

Municipalities

Of 32 municipalities with at least 25,000 residents, 27 had rate increases over the month, while 31 had decreases when compared to February 2011. Only Stevens Point had an increase over the year. Caledonia had the lowest February 2012 rate, 3.7%, while Beloit had the highest at 12.5%.

From January to February, the largest jobs gains were seen in metro Milwaukee (+3,000), Madison (+1,300), Eau Claire (+800), and Green Bay (+500). Losses were reported in four metro areas, including: Fond du Lac and Sheboygan (-200 each); and Janesville and Wausau (-100 each).

Counties

Sixty-eight counties had lower rates in February 2012 than February 2011. Bayfield and Iron counties experienced increases. Portage and Sawyer had no change.

Sixty-six counties had higher rates in February than January. Florence, Iron, and Oconto had slight decreases. Burnett, Columbia, and Forest had no change. Dane County had the lowest rate, 5.2%; Door County, the highest rate at 13.8%.

Newson said job openings on www.JobCenterofWisconsin.com topped 36,000 statewide last week. A record 151,000 jobs were posted in 2011. Manufacturing, sales, healthcare, and transportation are among the employment sectors with the most openings.