Wisconsin job numbers for March tough to predict

Published On: Apr 06 2012 06:21:37 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 06 2012 08:37:15 PM CDT

 LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Fewer people than expected joined the working world last month, according to the U.S. Labor Department's most recent report.

Only 120,000 unemployed Americans found work in March. That's far less than the 200,000 from recent months.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate dropped by a tenth of a percent mainly because fewer people are looking for work. The 8.2 percent jobless rate is the lowest the U.S. has seen since 2009.

While nationally, there has been a slow gain in jobs the last couple of years, Wisconsin has stayed pretty much the same.

But there's at least one business in the La Crosse area that's doing better than it ever has. Business is doing more than well at APAC customer service in Onalaska.

“Business is great,” said Todd Brudos, APAC's human resource manager. “Our client is a major wireless provider and their business is doing well, which in turns helps us do well.”

APAC, like many business, took a hit during the recession, letting go about 200 employees, but now things have turned around completely for the company.

Brudos says business is even better than it was before the recession hit and thinks it’s a sign the economy is bouncing back.

“Absolutely, we can tell that the economy is changing,” said Brudos. “As we get busier and hire more individuals, our client is requesting additional business as well.”

“I think that we are doing better than the rest of the state,” said Taggert Brooks, UW-La Crosse Economics Department chair. “We're relatively buffered to the rest of the state.”

Brooks said thanks to the sizable health care, education and agriculture sectors in the La Crosse area, the recession hasn't been quite as bad here, but that's not the case for Wisconsin as a whole.

“The national trend has been positive employment growth for the last almost two years now, not very strong, but positive and very consistent,” said Brooks. “Wisconsin's given up its gains in the last few months.”

He said one of the reasons may be because it took longer for the state to feel the hit of the recession. With Wisconsin's latest jobs report coming out soon, Brooks says anything can happen.

“Remember that on a month-to-month basis you see fluctuation in the data,” said Brooks. “You don't want to put too much into them, so it's sort of a little bit better to pay attention to the aggregate number and over a longer term. Any given point in time, you'll see industries give up or lose jobs. It's just part of the natural churn."

Brudos said the company just hired 50 new employees and is looking to hire another 50 next month.

Wisconsin's jobs report for March will be out in a couple of weeks.