UNDATED (WXPR) -- Northwoods unemployment levels are falling into traditional patterns says a state economist, but one county in this area now tops the list for joblessness.
In Central Wisconsin, the October figures put Marathon County at 5.7 percent, Wood County at 5.5 percent, and Portage County at 4.9 percent.
In the Northwoods, figures from the Department of Workforce Development find Price county with the lowest rate at 5.1 percent, Oneida at 6.9 percent, Lincoln at seven percent, Langlade at 7.2, Vilas at 7.8 percent, and Forest at 7.9 percent. Iron county has the state's highest rate at 12.1 percent.
State economist Tom Walsh says while some counties saw the rate rise from a year ago, most of the counties saw the jobless rate decline. He says overall, it's falling into a traditional pattern as summer employment ends. "The initial claims for unemployment insurance continue to decline when compared to last year. We see initial claims as a (type of) proxy for layoffs. So when claims decline we see that as a signal that layoffs are declining."
He says the number of open jobs is also increasing. "I looked at job postings that we looked at through the Department of Workforce Development's (website) Job Center of Wisconsin. Compared to last year, the number of jobs posted in the Northwoods is higher than it was. I see it as kind of a good sign that the prospects for those people seeking a job are improving."
St. Croix, Pepin and Pierce counties at the western Wisconsin border not far from the Twin Cities all have the state's lowest jobless rate at or below 4 percent. Dane county with the city of Madison also is at 4 percent.