Wisconsin ranks 32nd in private-sector job growth, trails national average



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MADISON, Wisconsin — Wisconsin ranks 32nd in private-sector job growth and lags behind the national average for the 12-month period that ended in June, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The numbers are consistent with where Wisconsin has ranked in recent years. The measurement is based on data provided by nearly every business in Wisconsin and across the country, making it more reliable than monthly state data that's based on a sample of only about 3 percent of businesses.

Private-sector jobs grew by 1.45 percent in Wisconsin from July 2013 through the end of June, and that trailed the national average of 2.3 percent growth.

Wisconsin ranked 32nd nationally in private-sector job growth and trailed other Midwest states including Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.

The less reliable monthly accounting from the state also released Thursday had more positive numbers. It showed unemployment dropped from 5.4 percent to 5.2 percent between October and November, the lowest it's been since the recession.

The national unemployment rate was 5.8 percent for the month.

That monthly report also showed that Wisconsin added 16,500 private-sector jobs in November.

"Wisconsin's economy is growing and we are moving in the right direction," said Gov. Scott Walker's spokeswoman Laurel Patrick.

Those preliminary jobs numbers show Wisconsin has now recovered all jobs lost during the Great Recession, said Reggie Newson, secretary of the Department of Workforce Development, which released the figures.

"Our focus must remain on talent development so the hard-working men and women of Wisconsin have the skills needed to fill jobs that are being created in our state's improving economy," Newson said in a statement.

Incoming Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, of La Crosse, was not impressed with the latest numbers.

"These sluggish job numbers reinforce the need for legislative leaders to focus on economic growth and strengthening the middle class rather than getting sidetracked by partisan distractions," she said in a statement.

Walker has said he wants to focus on bolstering worker training in the state budget he will submit to the Legislature early next year. Republicans who control the Legislature are also talking about pushing to make Wisconsin a right-to-work state, where private-sector workers could not be forced to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment.

Walker has said debating that would be a distraction, but has not said he would veto a bill should it pass. The issue has divided the state's business community, with the state chamber of commerce saying right-to-work is a priority while labor unions and a coalition of construction-related businesses are opposing it.


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