Wisconsin employment nearly back to pre-pandemic level

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A new report on Wisconsin employment shows the state is just about where it was before the coronavirus pandemic hit, but that the recovery has been uneven.

Total employment is down about 2.4%, or about 69,500 jobs from December 2019, according to the analysis from the non-partisan Wisconsin Policy Forum.

Employment in clothing stores decreased 20% statewide; gambling and recreation are down 15%; the food services industry declined 9%.

The report shows one sector that is thriving — transportation and warehousing, which grew 6.3% during the last two years.

“Since June 2015, more than 16,000 (warehouse jobs) have been added,” according to the report. “Of those, nearly 10,000 are in Kenosha and Milwaukee counties alone, and large increases in each of those counties occurred in the first few months following the opening of the (Amazon) fulfillment centers.”

The unemployment rate has hovered around 3% the last several months and businesses are still struggling to find workers for their vacant positions.

“Wisconsin’s aging population, low birth rate and lackluster net migration figures have led to a reduction in the working-age population,” according to the report. “The Wisconsin Department of Administration projects the state’s working-age population will remain roughly the same size, if not decline slightly, until at least 2040.”