Thousands of WI Jobs Lost
Most in the state's private sector
By Journal Sentinelof the
After Wisconsin started the year with two months of promising jobs gains, the state lost an estimated 4,300 private-sector jobs in March, according to preliminary data released Thursday by the state Department of Workforce Development.
The state's unemployment rate, which comes from a separate monthly survey of households rather than employers, slipped to 6.8% from 6.9% in February, the agency said.
Economists at the agency said the loss of private-sector jobs in March did not come as a complete surprise. They noted that a leading indicator, compiled by the Conference Board, a national business organization, had forecast a possible dip in March.
State labor economists also noted that the same indicator, called Help Wanted OnLine, signals that there might be a hiring uptick for April. The Help Wanted OnLine data measure the number of new, first-time online jobs and jobs reposted from the previous month.
The jobs decline in March also coincides with weak national job-creation data in the same month. In a report released two weeks ago, the U.S. Labor Department reported that American employers added a disappointing 121,000 new private-sector jobs in March as hiring abruptly downshifted to half the rate of the preceding three months for the weakest gains since August.
In Wisconsin, construction showed the deepest monthly job losses, which was unexpected given the unseasonably warm weather. Manufacturing, a key sector in a state that depends more on factory work than any state but Indiana, showed an increase of 2,000 jobs.
In the government sector, the state lost an estimated 200 public-sector jobs, which statistically amounts to a negligible change. The state's cities and counties shed 1,700 jobs, but the state added jobs in state government agencies and at state-run universities for the second month. Job losses in the private sector plus overall losses among government agencies led to a loss in total jobs of 4,500 in the month.
It has been common throughout the recovery for the two main labor market indicators - private-sector employment and the unemployment rate - to move in opposite directions, as was the case once again in March. Each is derived from separate government surveys.
And both are extrapolated from relatively small sample sizes that make them prone to volatility and revision. The monthly survey for payroll counts, for instance, is extrapolated from a government poll of only 5,000 of the state's employers, while the unemployment rate is extrapolated from an even smaller sample of 1,400 households.