Wisconsinites looking for work received tough news on Friday as state officials released data that showed the state had the highest one-month drop in jobs in the country.
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development reported Wednesday that the state lost 9,700 jobs in October, primarily in Milwaukee. The statewide unemployment rate for October was 7.7 percent.
The monthly number compared with other states across the country is the worst in the nation. It's the fourth month in a row that the state has lost jobs, WISC-TV reported.
While some areas of the state did add positions, including about 1,000 jobs in the Madison area, Workforce Development officials said the statewide trend is concerning.
"I would say it's not going in a direction we would like it. We started out this year doing very well, through June, and we're still up some 20,000 private-sector jobs since the first of the year. So, if you take it in that context too, we're doing pretty well," said Dennis Winter, a department economist.
Winters said that the slowing of the economy in Wisconsin is mirroring what's happening on a global and national level
"The economy in Wisconsin has slowed, and we're seeing that in the jobs numbers," he said.
Wisconsin's number can be contrasted with neighboring states, which reported mixed job numbers. Minnesota lost 6,000 jobs while Illinois topped the country by gaining 30,000 jobs, WISC-TV reported.
Gov. Scott Walker's office said the latest numbers show the need to stay focused on job creation.
Job Seekers Continue Search
For those looking for work in Wisconsin, the latest news can be disheartening. Kim Johnson said that although she has made multiple weekly visits over a year and a half to the Dane County Job Center as part of her search for work, she isn't giving up.
"I do know that there's competition out there, but I also know that you can't get anywhere if you don't try," Johnson said.
That being said, hearing of the latest job numbers didn't help her spirits.
"It's very disheartening, it's very disheartening that that's happening," she said. "It's so hard on so many people and I know I'm not the only person in that boat. It's very difficult, it's tough."
She said she is looking for clerical work after a state Department of Revenue temp job ended.
Johnson said that she believes more can be done to help the jobless.
"I think that politics shouldn't be a part of the agenda. It should be about helping people," she said.
But despite the recent trend, she said she remains hopeful.
"I think that's what everybody wants for the holidays: a brand new job," she said.
Southern Cities Have Highest Unemployment Rates
The cities of Racine, Beloit and Milwaukee had the highest unemployment rates for the month. Racine's rate was the highest at 11.8 percent, down from 12 percent in September. Beloit was second highest at 11.4 percent and Milwaukee was third at 10.3 percent.
The department reported that unemployment rates stayed the same or dropped in 30 of 31 cities with at least 25,000 people. It rose slightly in Superior, up from 6.8 percent to 6.9 percent.
Sixty counties either saw unemployment rates drop or remain the same in October, with just 12 going up. Menominee County had the highest unemployment rate at 13.9 percent, which was unchanged from the previous month.