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Green County sees second-largest July workforce in 25 years
MONROE - Monthly employment numbers for June struggled to break records in Green and Lafayette counties. But July appears to tell a different story.

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' local unemployment estimates Wednesday.

Green County's workforce in July 2014 was estimated at 20,666, just 11 individuals shy of the 25-year record high for July set in 2009, and this time around with only half the unemployment rate.

Green County's July workforce number this year is nothing to dismiss lightly; it is in the top 10 percent of the county's largest monthly workforces for the past 25 years.

In 2009, the year the most recent U.S. recession finally caught up to Wisconsin, unemployment in Green County bounced in June and July to 9.7 percent, the second highest rate at the time since 1990, second only to March 2009 when it reached 10 percent. The county's unemployment rate went on to reach its 25-year high of 10.5 percent in February 2010.

With unemployment estimated at 4.8 percent in July, Green County had about 19,670 people employed and about 1,000 looking for work. The July rate is one-half percentage point lower than in June when it was 5.3 percent, with 19,470 employed and 1,086 still looking for a job.

Lafayette County's July workforce numbers are somewhat of an enigma. The July monthly workforce has remained relatively stable through the recession period, varying little from the average of about 9,235 individuals in each of the past six years, and slightly more than the 9,217 average maintained in the previous nine years.

Meanwhile, the county has taken its July unemployment rates down from 7.7 percent in 2009 to 4.6 percent this year. Lafayette County put to work an estimated 8,780 people, leaving only about 430 looking for a job in July 2014.

Lafayette's unemployment rate dropped just 0.1 percentage point in July, compared to June's 4.7 percent. But with the slender rate decrease, the county also lost about 50 workers and 11 job seekers from its total workforce.

Green and Lafayette, as well as Dane, Iowa, Sauk, are among the top 20 percent of Wisconsin's 72 counties with the lowest unemployment rates for July, and which also happen to be are under 5 percent.

The July 2014 rates ranged from 4 percent in Dane to 18.3 percent in Menominee. Rates decreased in 63 counties, were unchanged in four and increased in five compared to rates in June 2014. They decreased in 70 counties, while Burnett and Menominee increased, compared to July 2013 rates.

Iowa dropped to 4.3 percent, compared to 4.7 percent in June and 5.3 percent in July 2013. Dane had a 0.2 point drop from 4.2 in June and a 0.8 point dropped compared to 4.8 percent in July 2013.

Rock County continues to struggle with high rates in the lower half of the ranked counties, with 6.6 percent unemployment, dropping 0.3 points since June and 1.2 points since July 2013.

Metro areas

Janesville Metropolitan Statistical Area showed the exact same numbers as Rock County for its July 2014 (6.6 percent), June 2014 (6.9 percent) and July 2013 (7.8 percent) unemployment rates. Madison Metro had 4.1 percent unemployment, following 4.3 percent in June and 4.9 percent in July 2013.

Madison retained the lowest metro area rate, while metro Racine showed the highest, 7.7 percent, in July. Rates decreased in 11 metro areas compared to June 2014 rates, and decreased in all 12 metro areas compared to the July 2013 rates.


The city of Madison followed in the footsteps of its metro area, with rates of 4.1 percent in July, 4.3 percent in June and 4.9 percent in July 2013.

The city of Janesville was not as fortunate, suffering the same high unemployment rates as, but still lower than, its big city neighbors to the south and east. Janesville had 7 percent unemployment in July, down from 7.3 percent in June, but a huge drop from 9 percent a year ago. Beloit and Milwaukee had rates of 9.4 percent, Kenosha had 8.1 percent and Racine had 11.3 percent, the highest unemployment rate among Wisconsin's 32 largest cities in July. Caledonia had the lowest rate, 3.3 percent.

Rates either decreased or were unchanged in 25 municipalities, and increased in seven when compared to rates in June 2014. Rates decreased in 31 municipalities compared to rates in July 2013.

Local employment numbers are not seasonally adjusted.

Without seasonal adjustment, Wisconsin's July rate was 5.8 percent, down from 6.0 percent in June and down from 6.7 percent in July 2013. The U.S. rate for July was 6.5 percent, up from 6.3 percent in June and down from 7.7 percent in July 2013.