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Wisconsin has lowest unemployment in Midwest as national rates drop

Posted at 8:39 PM, Jun 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-07 21:39:33-04

(NBC 26) -- The national unemployment rate dropped from 14.7% to 13.3% in the month of May, faster than economists predicted in the wake of the coronavirus.

But what does that mean for Wisconsin?

"It's positive news in a scope of information that isn't always positive," Kelly Armstrong, Vice President of economic development at the Greater Green Bay Chamber said.

Armstrong notes that Wisconsin's emphasis on manufacturing jobs drives the Badger State's economy.

"The state itself has the second largest concentration of manufacturing employment in the entire country," Armstrong said about the state's diverse manufacturing portfolio, including paper, packaging, food processing, metal fabrication and machinery.

Armstrong says this model is more sustainable than single-industry dominant states, like Michigan and the auto industry, for example.

"Manufacturing is over 20% of our regional economy, so very very important to the growth and health of our community," Armstrong said. "And because we have that diversity in industry, it will give us a better position for resiliency."

While the Greater Green Bay Chamber is still collecting local data for May, what came back from April shows Wisconsin has the lowest of all Midwestern unemployment numbers, at 14.1%. The closest to those numbers is Pennsylvania at 15.1% and Illinois at 16.4% in May.

Armstrong said that locals can expect that number to continue to fall now that Safer at Home orders have been repealed and industries are beginning to rebound.

"As we transition in to a broader range in the types of businesses coming back online -- restaurants, retail, hospitality -- of course you're going to see the unemployment numbers drop because more people are going back to work," Armstrong said.