Milwaukee gains jobs in May

By Joel Dresang – JS Online: Business Watch
The Milwaukee area improved its employment picture with a net gain of 8,200 jobs last month.

The state Department of Workforce Development reports this morning that the unemployment rate in the four-county Milwaukee area dipped to 5% in May from 5.2% in April and 5.1% in May 2005. The rate measures the percentage of the labor force actively seeking but not finding jobs.

Preliminary estimates of payroll data suggest the Milwaukee area had the state's largest growth in jobs last month but is still 1,100 shy of its mark in May 2005.

Early data from April showed metro Milwaukee 8,800 jobs behind its year-earlier employment, which was one of the highest deficits in the country. Figures released today updated the initial estimate for April, reducing the year-over-year comparison to a deficit of 5,000 instead of 8,800.

Seven of Wisconsin's 12 metro areas have lower unemployment rates than the year before. Eight have more jobs than in May 2005.

Of the state's 72 counties, 33 have unemployment rates lower than the same time last year.

In a separate report that is another sign of an improving Wisconsin economy, new applications for unemployment insurance benefits are running 15% behind claims from a year ago. The state Department of Workforce Development reports this morning that initial filings through June 17 came in at about 276,000, down from just under 325,000 the same time last year.

Continued claims for benefits from workers off the job for longer periods are 8% behind the year-ago pace.

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