New jobs numbers show more Wisconsin residents are working now than before the pandemic
By Erik Gunn | Wisconsin Examiner
March 25, 2022
Employment continued to rise in Wisconsin in February, with more people reporting work than two years ago, just before the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the state labor department.
Employers, however, said they had 71,000 fewer jobs than two years ago, in February 2020.
“Things are pretty much getting back to normal,” said Dennis Winters, chief economist at the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), which announced employment and employment figures on Thursday. from February.
The economic sector with the strongest job growth over the past 12 months is leisure and hospitality, which has gained 40,500 jobs since February 2021. Employers in this sector, which includes bars, restaurants , accommodation, recreation and entertainment, returned to about 97% of the jobs that existed in February 2020.
In February 2022, 3.05 million people reported working in Wisconsin, according to DWD. Two years earlier, that number was just under 3 million.
The number of non-agricultural payroll jobs in February 2022 was 2.92 million, compared to 2.99 million in February 2020.
Wisconsin added 20,000 non-farm private sector jobs in February 2022, and the state’s unemployment rate fell to 2.9% from 3% in January. More than two-thirds of the state’s population — 66.4% — were working or looking for work in February, a larger share than the national labor force participation rate of 62.3%.
The jobs and employment figures come from two different federal surveys. An employer census counts the number of jobs on an organization’s payroll. A household survey asks people whether they have a job or not. The household survey includes people working on their own account. The self-employed, however, are not included in the employer survey, Winters said.
Nationally, part-time work is down and full-time work, by comparison, has increased over the past two years, Winters said, a trend that was already underway before the pandemic.
Wage increases may be one of the reasons, he said, allowing workers to give up a second part-time job or a household to move from two earners to one – particularly if a person quits work to care for children at home due to difficulty in finding affordable child care.
“Nationally, there are probably about 2 million workers who are not in the workforce at this point, because they are caring for children, because of what is happening with COVID” in the field of child care, Winters said.
“Salaries are definitely rising, and they’re rising faster than the overall cost of the business,” he added, as employers offer higher salaries to attract more applicants.
It may also help explain why employers are reporting fewer jobs than two years ago.
“You could be employed in two jobs and you would only be counted as an employee once [on the household survey] but be counted twice in jobs [in the survey of employers]”, Winters said. “So if you lost that second part-time job and you’re still employed … you only show up once.”
As businesses resumed operations after temporary closures in the first two months of the pandemic, employers complained of their difficulty in filling vacancies. Winters said long-standing demographic trends that were already evident before COVID-19 are the biggest hurdle, however.
While the labor force has grown slightly over the past year, “it’s been essentially flat for 10 years,” Winters added, and as the state’s population ages, the workforce could decline. over the next decade.
The main solutions, he said, are to attract more people to the state and remove barriers that may have contributed to chronic unemployment, including transport, housing and lack of skills. But as the population ages, he expects employers will continue to face challenges when looking for workers.
The result is that fewer people are available to hire, making it harder for employers to fill jobs “with the limited labor force growth we have,” he said.
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This story first appeared in the Wisconsin Examiner and is republished with permission via a Creative Commons license. See the original story, here.