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Jobless rate trends still improving
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MADISON - Green and Lafayette counties' unemployment rates continued their trends, rising 0.4 percentage points in February compared to January, but coming in at rates below a year ago.

Local unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted, and rate increases from January to February are typical.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development on April 2 released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' estimates of unemployment and employment statistics for metro areas, major cities and counties in the state. The estimates include revisions for January 2014 and preliminary estimates for February 2014.

Green County's February unemployment rate of 6.6 percent rose from 6.2 percent in January, while maintaining about the same civilian work force level of 20,400. The unemployment rate was 7.4 percent in February 2013, with 20,000 people in the work force. About 560 more people were employed in the county in February compared to a year ago.

In Lafayette County, the unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in February, compared to 6.0 percent in January, with about 9,100 people in the workforce, about 100 more than in January. The county had a rate of 7.1 percent a year ago and a workforce of about 9,000 people. About 156 more people were employed in February compared to February 2013.

Rates increased in all but three of Wisconsin's 72 counties from January 2014 to February 2014. Iron County's rate decreased, while Bayfield and Florence had no change. When compared to a year ago, the February 2014 rates decreased in all counties with two exceptions: Florence and Green Lake, where rates increased. The February 2014 rates ranged from 4.6 percent in Dane to 12.7 percent in Bayfield.

Dane County was up 0.3 percentage points compared to 4.3 percent in January. Dane was at 5.3 percent in February 2013.

Rock County, at 8.1 percent, was up 0.1 percentage point from 8.0 in January, and 9.4 percent in February 2013.

In Iowa County, unemployment rose 0.5 point to 7.6 percent compared to January. The county had an unemployment rate of 8.9 percent in February 2013.

Preliminary February 2014 rates increased in all but two of Wisconsin's 32 largest municipalities from January 2014.

Janesville saw a 0.2 point increase in February, rising to 8.5 percent compared to January, but remaining well below 9.7 percent a year earlier. Madison's rate rose to 4.4 percent, taking a 0.3 point increase compared to January. Madison had a rate of 5 percent in February 2013.

Beloit's rate of 10.6 percent remained the same, and Mount Pleasant's rate decreased 0.1 point to 8.7 percent. February 2014 rates ranged from 3.9 percent in Caledonia to 11.5 percent in Racine.

February 2014 rates decreased in all 32 municipalities when compared to February 2013 rates.

Preliminary February 2014 unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) also increased in all 12 metro areas, compared to rates in January 2014, and decreased in all 12 metro areas compared to rates in February 2013. The February 2014 rates ranged from 4.9 percent in metro Madison to 8.7 percent in metro Racine.

The Janesville Metropolitan Statistical Area rose to 8.1 percent, up 0.1 point from January, and down 1.3 percentage points from 9.4 percent from February 2013. The number of employees is 65,500, up by 2,000 compared to a year ago.

Madison MSA was up 0.2 points, to reach 4.9 percent. The area was at 5.7 percent in February 2013. The number of employees is 362,900, up by 5,600 compared to a year ago.

On March 27, DWD released BLS preliminary state employment and unemployment estimates for February 2014, showing Wisconsin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined from a revised rate of 6.2 percent in January 2014 to a preliminary rate of 6.1 percent in February 2014.

The rate is Wisconsin's lowest monthly rate since November 2008, down from a high point of 9.2 percent in 2010, and below the national unemployment rate of 6.7 percent.

Without seasonal adjustments, the state rate was 7 percent, up from 6.7 percent in January and down from 7.9 percent in February 2013. The U.S. rate, not seasonally adjusted, was 7 percent in January and February, and 8.1 percent in February 2013.

DWD also previously released BLS preliminary February 2014 employment estimates showing Wisconsin gained 28,900 private sector jobs from February 2013 to February 2014 (seasonally adjusted), including 6,000 jobs in manufacturing.

Total seasonally adjusted nonfarm job growth was 30,000 jobs year over year. February 2014 estimates, when compared to January 2014, include gains in educational and health services, construction and manufacturing (non-durable goods). A decline in seasonally adjusted estimated government jobs by 7,900 followed a notable gain in government jobs the previous month.