Unemployment rates drop to record lows locally, statewide

By Hannah Weikel - Freeman Staff

June 22, 2017

WAUKESHA - Wisconsin's unemployment rate dropped to near-record lows this year, and Waukesha County's rate is one of the lowest in the state.

Unemployment in the county dropped from 3.4 to 2.5 percent from May 2016 to May 2017, compared to 3.5 percent in Milwaukee County and 3.1 percent in the state this year. The national rate is 4.3 percent, according to a Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development press release.

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow said the current numbers are reminiscent of what unemployment rates have long been in the county. But what's telling about the area's success is that the county's employment rate exceeds 90 percent for working-age males and around 85 percent for working-age females, he said.

"Most of the people who want to work in Waukesha County are working," Farrow said.

He said the issue isn't finding jobs for people - it's finding people to fill the jobs. The state is facing a similar job gap in high-skill jobs.

Farrow said the county is working with groups in Milwaukee - where unemployment is a bit higher - to train workers for high-skill jobs and provide transportation to open jobs in Waukesha.

He said the main goal for workforce development in the future is to consistently find people to fill jobs with manufacturing and production companies in Waukesha County, while also increasing skills in those workers so they can operate robots that fill the jobs of two or three workers.

May 2017 unemployment rates

City of Waukesha - 2.6 percent

Waukesha County - 2.5 percent

Milwaukee County - 3.5 percent

Dane County - 2.2 percent

State of Wisconsin - 3.1 percent

Nationwide - 4.3 percent

Source: Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development