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Unemployment rates soar across region

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Local unemployment rates throughout western Wisconsin took a significant jump upward in January, according to figures released by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

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In January 2008, the unemployment rate in St. Croix County was just 4.7 percent. This year that rate jumped to 7.5 percent, up from 5.6 percent in December.

The Pierce County rate climbed to 7.1 percent, up from 5.4 percent in December and 4.8 percent last year.

The rate in Polk County jumped to double digits in January to land at 10.5 percent, up from a December rate of 7.6 percent.

Wisconsin's smallest county saw its rate climb to 8.5 percent. The December rate for Pepin County was just 5.4 percent.

Dunn County's rate climbed to 7.2 percent, up from 5 percent the previous month.

Things were worse in Chippewa County which came in at 8.9 percent, up from 5.1 percent in December.

The bright spot in the region was in Eau Claire County which at 5.9 percent enjoyed the second lowest unemployment rate in the state. Dane County had the lowest unemployment in the state at 4.9 percent.

Across the region the unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, according to DWD figures.

"Like every other state in the nation, Wisconsin is seeing increases in unemployment across most localities that underscore the economic challenges our country faces," said Roberta Gassman, DWD secretary.

The statewide January unemployment rate was at 7.6 percent, up from 5.8 percent in December. The national rate was 8.5 percent.

Over the past year, DWD figures show that there was a loss of 72,700 non-farm jobs in the state.

Manufacturing was down 31,700 jobs while the professional and business services sector was down 17,400.

Construction was down 11,000 jobs. However, education and health services jobs increased by 9,700.

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