MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- The unemployment rate in Wisconsin soared in April, jumping over ten points in a single month.
PHOTO: Unemployment claim form, Photo Date: April 2014 (Source: MGN Photo - Julie Chasen / MGN)
Hundreds of thousands of workers have lost their jobs over last month sending the state’s preliminary unemployment rate in April to 14.1 percent, eleven points higher than last month, according to the Department of Workforce Development.
Chief Economist Dennis Winters says unemployment is now at its highest point since the Great Depression.
DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman said this month’s figures reflect the effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on Wisconsin and shows why it is important to “safely and rationally” reopen the state.
"A strategy based on science that reduces the likelihood of additional outbreaks and further economic instability is the only way to get Wisconsin back on the path of historically low unemployment rates that the state was experiencing prior to COVID-19," he said.
The agency’s numbers, which were released Thursday, are based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary estimates for the month. It showed the state lost 439,400 non-farm jobs, 385,900 of which are in the private sector from March to April of this year.
Despite the state’s extremely high unemployment rate, it still sits 0.6 points lower than the 14.7 percent national unemployment rate and well below the 22.7 percent reported Thursday in Michigan.
The state's chamber of commerce, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, responded to the report by citing its prediction that enacting economic restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 was more dangerous than the virus.
"While the COVID-19 virus has only infected a small percentage of the population, everyone in Wisconsin will see and feel the consequences of depression-level losses of businesses, jobs, wages, benefits and economic activity," the trade association said in a statement released soon after the jobs report," it wrote.
The WMC called on state and local governments to end the safety measures, "return(ing) to the policies that delivered the strongest economy, lowest unemployment and largest budget reserves in Wisconsin history. "