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Labor Force Growing In Northwoods: Economist

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Last week's release of unemployment numbers for Wisconsin shows a continuing drop in joblessness in the Northwoods and growth in the Northwoods labor force.

Statewide, the rate was 4 percent in December, the lowest rate since 2001. 71 counties either had rates drop or stay the same. In the Northwoods, the numbers varied from a high in Iron county of 7.4 percent to a low of 4.4 percent in Lincoln county.

All the counties had rates about one percentage point lower than last year.

State Labor Economist Scott Hodek says a surprising rise in the area labor force caught his eye...

".....all your listening counties saw much faster labor growth than that, especially Vilas and Oneida counties and Langlade as well. You're looking at between two and four percent growth there. The percentage of employed went up much more than at the statewide level. Unemployed had a similar kind of trend....."

Hodek says after a presidential election the economy tends to cycle up for a time, and this year is no exception, but truer indications of the year's forecast will come in a few weeks...

"....at least moderate growth in 2017, possibly an acceleration of that growth, but it's hard to tell with the noise from the election. After a couple of months when things settle down we'll get a sense of more of what we're going to see in 2017....."

The state also reported initial claims for unemployment were at the lowest level since 1988.

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