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Area unemployment rises, but it may steady according to survey

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The counties in far-western Wisconsin are seeing better unemployment rates than across the nation and the state.

Along with those better numbers a recent employment outlook survey by Manpower Inc., finds that only 10 percent of employers in the region plan to cut staff in the first three months of the coming year.

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Recently released unemployment figures by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development put the state's unemployment rate for November at 5.3 percent, much lower than the nation's 6.5 percent.

In the region, the unemployment rate in St. Croix County climbed to 4.8 percent in November from 3.9 percent in October.

Meanwhile the rate in Pierce County was at 4.6 percent, up a full point from the previous month.

Pepin County had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the region at just 4.1 percent, a jump of 0.7 percent from October.

The unemployment rate in Polk County was the only one in the region to surpass the statewide rate. The November rate there was 6 percent, up from 4.7 percent the month before.

Despite layoffs at Anderson Windows in Menomonie, the rate in Dunn County was just 3.9 percent. In Eau Claire County the rate was only 4.3 percent. Chippewa County's rate was 5.5 percent.

"Like almost every other state in the nation, Wisconsin is feeling the effects of the national economic downturn, despite its diverse economy and talented workers," said Roberta Gassman, DWD secretary.

The area's unemployment picture may remain steady, according to a recent employment survey done by the Milwaukee-based international employment firm, Manpower.

Each quarter Manpower interviews employers across the nation for their survey. This is the first quarter the company has issued a combined survey for western Wisconsin and the Twin Cities.

"From January to March, 14 percent of the companies interviewed plan to hire more employees, while 10 percent expect to reduce their payrolls," Michele Lindberg, a Manpower spokeswoman.

"Another 72 percent expect to maintain their current staff levels and 4 percent are not certain of their hiring plans." she added.

The company reports that for the coming quarter, job prospects appear best in wholesale and retail trade, transportation and utilities, information, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality; and other services.

Meanwhile, employers in construction, durable and nondurable goods manufacturing, financial activities and government plan to reduce staffing levels, while hiring in education and health services is expected to remain unchanged.

Since November 2007 the state has lost a total of 32,400 non-farm jobs, according to DWD figures.

The biggest losses were in the goods-producing sector which lost 26,500, and the service provider sector lost 5,900.

The only sector to add jobs was the education and health services which added 6,900 jobs.

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