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Millions of people across the country lost jobs last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including many people in Wisconsin.

But while workers in the Badger State did suffer, Wisconsin fared better than many other states.

According to the Wisconsin Policy Forum, from September 2019 to September 2020, Wisconsin lost about 5 percent of total jobs.

Nationally, the average was 6.8 percent, while neighboring states like Michigan lost 7.9 percent of total jobs.

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The demand for workers is high across the Northwoods.

“One company is registered they have over 20 openings. That’s just one company,” said Jenny Kowalczyk, employment and training specialist and TAA case coordinator with the Department of Workforce Development.

She said there are more than 50 companies registered for Wednesday’s virtual job fair.

“I know a couple companies have raised their minimum wage increase just to get the job seekers there. There definitely is a need for job seekers for our businesses in the Northwoods,” said Kowalczyk.

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Just over a month away from the Wausau River District's "Dining on the Street" returning to downtown Wausau and some restaurants are still struggling to find the help needed to make it a success.

"When you look back a year ago, everything was different," said Pedro Pineda, Co-owner at Jalapenos Mexican Restaurante & Bar.

And the proof is in pandemic.

According to data collected by Wausau River District, businesses downtown believed overwhelmingly last year that there was no concern whether their business was at risk of closing.

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With the 'Safer-At-Home' order in place and coronavirus infections still climbing, Wisconsin's May unemployment rates continued high, some at near Depression levels.

The local unemployment rates released this week are detailed by economist Mitchell Rupp in Wausau..

"For the month of May, here's the unemployment rates...Forest, 21.7...Langlade, 10.4, Lincoln, 9.9, Oneida, 13.4, and Vilas, 13.0...."

Iron county had the state's third highest rate at 19 percent. Price county's rate was just under 12 percent.

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Some parts of Wisconsin have hit unemployment levels not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930's due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The most recent unemployment numbers are from April. At the peak of the Great Depression in 1933, the national unemployment level reached 24.9 percent. Some areas of the Northwoods have exceeded that number.

State labor economist Mitchell Rupp in Wausau gives us the latest jobless numbers...

"Forest, 16.7(percent unemployed), Langlade 14.1, Lincoln 14.3, Oneida 20.1, and Vilas 21.4..."

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Lawmakers in Madison last week met to discuss problems with the unemployment insurance system now swamped by hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers. Workers have complained they couldn't reach anyone via telephone and if a problem happened, their claim was moved back. The number of calls totals in the millions.

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Unemployment still remains low in most of the Northwoods, but some slightly higher jobless numbers are being reported by the state.

Labor Economist Mitchell Rupp in Wausau talks about the August unemployment numbers here...

"...The August unemployment rates, Forest, 4.6, Langlade 3.7, Lincoln 3.9, Oneida 3.7 and Vilas 3.1. For the state of Wisconsin, the August unemployment rate was 3.3 with a decrease .1 from the previous month and an increase of .4 from the previous year..."

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Economists often report that statistically, an unemployment rate under 4 percent means near full employment. The latest numbers reported by the state shows 54 of Wisconsin's 72 counties with rates below 4 percent.The current rate is 3.4 percent statewide.

State Labor Economist Mitchell Rupp in Wausau reports on Northwoods numbers...

"For the month of July, the unemployment rates(are) Forest 5.0, Langlade 4.2, Lincoln 3.8, Oneida 3.7, and Vilas 3.3...."

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Northwoods unemployment rates either stayed the same as one year ago or rose slightly.

Those results after the state recently released the June unemployment numbers. State labor economist Mitchell Rupp in Wausau says it's not uncommon to see a small rise in unemployment in June..

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The state's unemployment rate continues to remain very low.

The most recent numbers from the Department of Workforce Development show unemployment rates declined or stayed the same over the year in 47 of Wisconsin's 72 counties.

Mitchell Rupp is a state labor economist based in Wausau.

He outlines the Northwoods numbers...

"...For May, the unemployment rates are...Forest 4.3, Langlade 3.0, Lincoln 2.7, Oneida 3.0, and Vilas 3.0...."

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Wisconsin's unemployment rate declined to a new record low of 2.8 percent in April.

Northwoods counties followed the trend, but still have higher levels of joblessness here than other parts of the state.

State Labor Economist Mitchell Rupp in Wausau says the rates fell in the region...

"...For you five-county area, all five counties saw decreases in the unemployment rate from the previous month as well as the previous year. The unemployment rates for the month of April: Forest 5.3, Langlade 3.4, Lincoln 3.3. Oneida 4.1, Vilas 4.7..."

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In some parts of the state, the unemployment level has not been this low in history.

While levels have remained stable here, the Northwoods continues to have above average joblessness.

Wisconsin's statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to a new all time low of 2.8 percent in April, led largely by historic employment levels in mostly southern Wisconsin communities.

State labor economist Mitchell Rupp in Wausau gives the jobless rates in part of the Northwoods...

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Unemployment numbers held steady in the Northwoods from February to March, but still remain a few points above the numbers in central and southern Wisconsin.

The March unemployment rate reported by the state finds Iron county with the state's highest rate at 6.8 percent, Forest county at 5.5, Vilas at 5.4, Oneida 4.7 percent, Langlade 4.3 percent, Price at 3.8 and Lincoln 3.6 percent. All those numbers are lower than February's marks.

State labor economist Mitchell Rupp says the numbers still reflect a downward trend.... 

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Northwoods unemployment numbers ticked up late last year, but a state economist says that is not unusual for the winter months.

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Economists often say an unemployment rate of four percent is statistically full employment. Only six of the state's 72 counties are at four percent or higher, with the majority well below it.

The Department of Workforce Development recently released the local employment and unemployment rates for November. Iron county had the state's highest rate of 5.3 percent. Forest county had the state's seventh-highest rate at 3.9 percent, Vilas was ninth at 3.8 percent, Langlade county is at 3.2 percent, Price and Oneida county at 3.1 percent and Lincoln at 2.5 percent.

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