La Crosse unemployment rates rise for the first time in months

LA CROSSE, Wis. - In Wisconsin, all 72 counties saw an increase in the unemployment rate for the month of January.

This is the first time La Crosse has seen an increase in the unemployment rates in months.

In La Crosse County, the winter months for job growth can be a bit of a drag.

"It's the seasonality of Wisconsin that's hard to get rid of," said regional labor market analyst Bill Brockmiller.


New numbers from the Department of Workforce development shows La Crosse County's unemployment rate rose from 4.9 percent to 6.3 percent.

Brockmiller said after coming off of a strong holiday hiring season, seeing unemployment rise in January isn't surprising.

"We have retail trade that in January, lays off a lot of its seasonal help," said Brockmiller. "We have construction that continues to slow down in January, one of its slowest months."

The city of La Crosse also saw unemployment rise by nearly two percent.

Creating jobs and growing the local economy is something both La Crosse mayoral candidates plan to work on if elected.

Candidate Doug Farmer said it can't happen unless neighborhood revitalization happens too.

"The word of the day, the word of the age is partnership," said Farmer. "We're all interconnected. We'll never have a successful downtown if we're ringed with neighborhoods that are not successful."

Candidate Tim Kabat said partnership with the business community will be key.

"I've got some ideas that I would like to work on including business round table meetings where we sit down with the business community and talk about issues and talk about the challenges, and really try to again work together as public private partners to help grow our region," said Kabat.

But Brockmiller said either way, something needs to be done to lower the unemployment rate.

"Where we are in this recovery (with) this slow steady increase, it's where we can expect to be, but in the long run we need to be lower," said Brockmiller.

Brockmiller said finding a way to lower the rate grows the economy in more ways than one.

"To get more people jobs is the most painless way to for government to raise revenue," said Brockmiller. "It really is because more people (will) pay taxes without raising them. More people can afford houses, more people can afford a new washer, so there's more sales tax."

Brockmiller said he expects February's unemployment number to be similar to January's.

He thinks the rate will fall back down once the weather starts to warm up.

Even with a rise in the unemployment rate, the La Crosse metropolitan area still ranks second to Madison for having the lowest unemployment rate in state.

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