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Unemployment rates in Pierce, St. Croix counties among lowest in Wisconsin

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Pierce County's current unemployment rate is the second lowest in the state and St. Croix County's is the third lowest, according to preliminary May numbers released by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development this week.

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Pierce County's May rate was estimated at 4.7%, compared to a rate of 5.3% a year ago. Pierce's unemployment rate for April was 5.1%, and its rate for March was 6.3%.

St. Croix County's May rate was estimated at 4.9%, compared to the April rate of 5.3% and the March rate of 6.2%. One year ago, the county's unemployment rate was estimated at 5.4%.

DWD said 69 of Wisconsin's 72 counties had rate declines or no change compared to a year ago.

Six counties had no change from April to May. Of Wisconsin's 32 municipalities with a population of least 25,000 residents, 30 had either declines or no change in unemployment rates year over year. From April to May, 11 of the 32 municipalities had either declines or no change in rates, while 21 experienced increases. Only Dane County had an unemployment rate lower that Pierce or St. Croix in May. The lowest rate in the state was in Dane (4.7%, but up slightly from April's rate of 4.4%), followed by Pierce, St. Croix, Calumet (5.1%) and La Crosse (also at 5.1%).

Menominee (15.1%) had the highest unemployment rate in the state, followed by Iron (11.1%), Sawyer (9.3%), Bayfield (also at 9.3%) and Rusk (9.2%).

"It has been some time since St. Croix's unemployment rate has been below 5%," said William Rubin, executive director of St. Croix Economic Development Corporation. "Both counties (St. Croix and Pierce) are included in the nation's 16th largest metro area, and residents and businesses alike enjoy many advantages with this alignment, including a strong labor shed across the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota. The challenge ahead is to keep the rate below 5%."

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin's Greater St. Croix Valley. Polk's rate decreased from 8.1% in April to 7.8% in May (the March rates was 8.1%). Dunn County's unemployment rate in May was 5.7%, up slightly from the April rate of 5.6%, but lower than the March rate of 6.8%.

The 13-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Minnesota-Wisconsin metro area reported an unemployment rate of 5.2% in May, up slightly from 5.1% in April but lower than the March rate of 6.1%. One year ago, the unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 6.1%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in May was estimated at 6.8%, up slightly from April's rate of 6.7%. The March rate for Wisconsin was also at 6.8%. One year ago, the state's seasonally adjusted rate was 7.6%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota for May was estimated at 5.6 %, which is unchanged from the April rate, but lower than March's rate of 5.8%. Minnesota's seasonally adjusted rate was 6.6% one year ago.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. in May was estimated at 8.2%, also up slightly from the April rate of 8.1%. The March rate in U.S. was 8.2%. One year ago the U.S. rate was estimated at 9.0%.

May's estimates are preliminary and are subject to revision within the next few weeks.

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