WAUKESHA — After declining for months, unemployment insurance claim metrics have begun to climb upwards in Waukesha County.

According to the county COVID-19 dashboard, unemployment claims spiked in March and April as the coronavirus pandemic spurred a statewide shutdown and ongoing stall of economic activity.

After peaking in May at about 18,500, continuing unemployment insurance claims in the county declined for months until early December, when they rose to about 5,700 from 4,800 a week prior. The rise is not nearly as steep or sudden as in spring, when claims rose from 2,200 to 5,600 in a week, but may indicate claims are set to continue at a higher level than in early 2020.

“While a bump in the unemployment rate is always something to watch, we know there are many open positions in Waukesha County,” said Waukesha County Business Alliance President and CEO Suzanne Kelley, in a statement. “Key industries such as construction, distribution and manufacturing are in need of talent, from entry level all the way up to highly skilled talent. There are workforce development programs available to help job seekers get connected to open positions and receive training to skill up for familysustaining jobs. A good starting point is the Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington Workforce Development System.”

Waukesha County Chairman Paul Decker said the county’s manufacturing industry remains strong, which benefits businesses insular to it, but other sectors are still facing challenges.

“The service industry obviously is being challenged right now, the restaurants and the businesses related to that are having difficulty,” he said. “That’s where I think the challenge is going to remain through the course of the colder weather.”

Decker said workforce development can help get people back to work through apprenticeships, retraining and help with resumes and research. He said small businesses can also get help with acquiring loans through groups like the Waukesha County Center for Growth.

To learn more about the Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington Workforce Development System and access its resources, visit www.wfdc.org.