September 2019 Unemployment

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St. Croix County’s September Unemployment Rate at 2.7%

On October 23rd, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary September 2019 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 33 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s rate was estimated at 2.7%. For comparison, St. Croix’s final rate in August was 2.9% and July’s final rate was 3.0%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 2.3%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from August to September declined or remained the same. The rates ranged from 2.1% in Lafayette to 9.3% in Menominee.

September’s 2019 preliminary unemployment rates declined or stayed the same in Wisconsin’s 33 largest municipalities from August to September. Rates ranged from 2.2% in La Crosse to 5.0% in Racine.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rate in September include Lafayette (2.1%), Iowa (2.2%), Dane (2.3%), Green (2.4%), and La Crosse, Monroe, Sauk, Sheboygan, and Taylor (all at 2.4%). Menominee County had the highest rate in September at 9.3%, followed by Iron (4.8%), Marinette (4.1%), Forest (4.0%), Rusk (3.9%).

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 2.7%, September’s preliminary rate in Pierce was at 2.5%, followed by Dunn at 2.7%, and Polk at 2.8%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The September 2019 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 2.4%, which is lower than August’s final rate of 2.9% and July’s final rate of 3.1%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 2.2% in September 2018.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in September was estimated 3.1%, which is higher than August’s final rate of 3.1% and July’s final rate of 3.0%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.0%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in September was estimated at 3.2 %, which is lower than August’s final rate of 3.3% and July’s final rate of 3.4%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 2.8%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for September was estimated at 3.5%, which is lower than the final rate of 3.7% for both August and July. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.7%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for September was estimated at 67.2%, which is the same as the final rates for August and July. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 67.6%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in September was estimated at 63.2%, which is the same as August’s final rate and higher than July’s final rate of 63.0%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 62.7%.

September’s estimates are preliminary and are subject to revision within the next few weeks.

Nominations for 2019 Business of the Year

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Nominations Open for 2019 Business of the Year

St. Croix EDC is now accepting nominations for its 2019 Business of the Year awards program.

Categories include:
Emerging Business of the Year (a start-up business that has operated in St. Croix County for five or fewer years)
Small Business of the Year (29 or fewer employees); and
Business of the Year (30 or more employees)

Qualifying companies must be involved in manufacturing, distribution, construction, health care, or must be service providers to other companies. Companies must be operated for profit. (Retail companies are not eligible.)

Individuals may nominate a company in any of the categories or a business may place their company’s name in nomination.

Recent Noteworthy Accomplishments such as:
milestone anniversary, physical plant expansion, new product line, increases in employment, sales increases, pollution control advances, new training programs, export sales, or any other significant advances.

Contributions to Enhance the Community:
Contributions to community projects, service to area youth, education programs, and other efforts to increase the quality of life in the area.

The winners will be announced in January and honored at a banquet on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at Kilkarney Hills Golf Course in River Falls.

A nomination form and guidelines can be obtained by clicking HERE or by contacting Nita Dusek at (715) 381-4383 or The deadline to submit is Friday, December 13, 2019 at the close of business. (The form is interactive. No need to print it! Fill it out on your computer, save it, then email it back to

Farming’s New Anthem: She-I-O


Farming’s New Anthem: She-I-O


As nursery rhymes go, Old MacDonald Had a Farm is one of the newer ones, going back to around 1917. The opening lines put agriculture in perspective back in the day, “Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O; And on his farm he had a cow, E-I-E-I-O . . . .” Fast forward to today and the numbers show the average farmer in the U.S. is white, male, and nearly 60-years old, according to 2017’s Census of Agriculture, released every five years. They say farming gets in one’s blood and there’s no leaving. A farmer in his mid- to late 70s may ask, “What does that 58-year old kid up the road know about farming?”

The Ag Census had a big surprise. While women have been a big part of agriculture and farming for centuries, it was mostly behind-the-scenes. The census shows the number of female farmers in the U.S. has tripled in the last 30-years. Female ranchers and farmers increased almost 27% from 2012 to 2017, to around 1.23 million. Women now represent 36% of all farmers. Many are directly involved in making day-to-day decisions, as well as record-keeping and financial management.

Agriculture runs deep in the St. Croix Valley, from dairies to beef cattle, corn, beans, and maybe the latest cash crop, hemp. The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) at UW-River Falls (River Falls, WI) consistently ranks as one of the top undergraduate ag programs in the nation. The previous state ag secretary was from the valley and is female. Her brother also served as ag secretary.

All of this brings us to Land O’ Lakes (LOL), a farmer-owned cooperative based in Arden Hills, Minnesota. It is led by a trailblazing CEO, Beth Ford. Just over a year ago, LOL’s dairy foods sector rolled out a new branding campaign, called All Together Better. The company teamed up with country singer Maggie Rose and songwriter Liz Rose to create a rework of Old MacDonald. Called She-I-O, the song and video help illustrate the changing face of agriculture. LOL donated $1 to project partner Feeding America for every She-I-O share, tag, or comment on its social media channels. The $100,000 goal was reached a month early.

The She-I-O video is still available for viewing, using key search words Maggie Rose, She-I-O and women farmers. Enjoy the lyrics. Ladies, sing it loud. Sing it proud:

Sun comes up, she’s out of bed
Whole world swimmin’ in her head
Now you can’t tell her she can’t do it all
She’s five-foot-two and ten feet tall
She had a dream
It made her strong
Works as hard as her days are long
And Old MacDonald had a daughter, She-I-E-I-O

Look what she does with what he taught her, She-I-E-I-O
She’s got the future in her hands
Proud her roots are where she stands
Working on a greater plan
Showing us all if she can do it
WE can
She makes the most of her strong arms
She feeds the babies and runs the farm
She’s moving mountains and catching stars
She’s every woman and every heart

Can’t hold her back
With what she’s not
She uses everything she’s got
And on her farm her family grows
She shows her kids everything she knows
So when she’s older herself someday
They’ll make her proud and know the way
She’s the future of the world (SHE-I-E-I-O)
Don’t ever say she’s just a girl (SHE-I-E-I-O)
We’ve come along and we’re taking it farther (SHE-I-E-I-O)
With today’s new old MacDonald farmer

Young Trio Provide Inspiration, Hope


Young Trio Provide Inspiration, Hope


A bold claim suggests America’s youth has never had so many opportunities. An expanded claim says the same for the youth around the globe. Opportunities run the gamut, from technology to education, and from mobility to part- and full-time jobs. Our youth may be living in the best of times.

There’s a suspicion that opportunities are squandered; youth is wasted on the young. The term entitlement comes to mind. A $1.60 minimum wage job tackling a mountain of dirty dishes long ago has transitioned to very similar jobs at $10 or $12 an hour that go unfilled. Party-line telephone service yielded to the latest and greatest cell phones. Who walks or rides a bike when a gently-used commuter SUV sits in the driveway? Maybe it’s generational; moms and dads proclaim their very own children enjoy a softer life than they had.

Just when hope appears lost, three inspiring stories involving our youth and young adults emerge. Yes, there’s a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a beacon from an oncoming freight train.

Meet Kade Lovell, a nine-year old runner. He entered a recent five kilometer (5K) race and somewhere on the course made a wrong turn. Perhaps leading the pack, young Kade had no one to follow. He did not stop. He did not turn around. He did not search for a map on Google. He kept going. Kade won the 10K race even though he signed up for the shorter distance. His pace was a very respectable 7:45 over 6.2 miles. Here’s to Kade.

Meet Casey O’Brien, a typical college student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. Oh, Casey is a non-scholarship member of the (Fighting) Golden Gophers football squad. He says he’s third on the depth chart as a holder for extra-point kicks. Oh, Casey is a four-time cancer survivor. For those having six spare minutes, ESPN recently profiled a courageous Casey O’Brien. Keep a hankie handy. More recently, he was nominated for the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Casey jokes about getting on the field for just one extra point attempt. The current holder said they may be working on a secret plan to pull this off. It involves the first two holders suddenly misplacing their helmets, opening the door for Casey. Here’s to Casey. Please, please execute that not-so-secret plan.

Meet Carson King, another typical (or atypical) college student. Before the Iowa-Iowa State football game a few weeks ago, Carson held up a placard to a national audience. The nearly broke college student asked for a little beer money. He figured someone would bite. They did. A few hundred dollars became a few thousand. Corporate sponsors jumped in. As the monetary snowball rolled down the hill, Carson found himself at the center of a national spotlight. He announced he’d keep the first two thousand dollars and donate the rest to charity. At last count the fund was at $1.1 million and still climbing. Oh, Carson got a year’s supply of his favorite beer from a national brewer, too. Here’s to Carson.

Those dang kids and young adults. There is hope. There is inspiration. Go forward Kade, Casey, and Carson. Do bigger and better things. And, upon further reflection, there are plenty of good, normal kids who are not doing remarkable things, but are fine young people just the same. Keep going.

A New Tapestry


A New Tapestry


According to Wiki, the word tapestry is Old French used as a noun to refer to textile fabrics formed by weaving colored threads to create pictures or designs. Sometimes tapestries were used to portray a series of events or stories. A more modern use of the term links it to cultures, races, and customs, along the lines of ‘the world is a tapestry of individual uniqueness all woven together’.

That descriptor gets us to a mapping and data analytics company called Esri. The company’s tagline is the science of where. Software is a powerful tool. Esri uses geographic information system (GIS) mapping to help their subscribers see what others can’t. This includes spatial analysis, mapping and visualization, 3D GIS, real time GIS, imagery and remote sensing and data management.

Where’s this going? Esri launched its own version of woven threads to tell stories, called Tapestry Segmentation, to better understand customers’ lifestyle choices, what they buy, and how they spend their free time. Esri’s Tapestry service gives its users the insights to help identify the best customers, optimal sites, and underserved markets, leading to higher response rates, avoiding less profitable areas, and investing resources more wisely. As Esri proclaims, Tapestry Segmentation is the Fabric of America’s Neighborhoods.

And now the fun part. Esri uses 14 LifeModes to describe America’s Neighborhoods. They range from Affluent Estates to Cozy Country Living, and from Middle Ground to MidTown Singles. Each LifeModes has numerous subsets. The Family Landscapes LifeMode includes a subset called Soccer Moms and the Rustic Outposts LifeMode includes Diners & Miners.

And now for the really fun and intriguing part. Esri gives online browsers the ability to search communities and neighborhoods free of charge to learn a tapestry’s local story. The zip code 54016 for Hudson, Wisconsin shows 26.4% are Soccer Moms, 22.4% are Bright Young Professionals, and 15.2% are Savvy Suburbanites, all with detailed summaries. New Richmond’s 54017 zip yields Middleburg, Rustbelt Traditions, and Old and Newcomers as the subsets. Results for Baldwin are Middleburg, Rustbelt Traditions, and Green Acres. Are these communities, all within close proximity, close reflections of the descriptors? If there’s a zip code, Esri has it covered with a Tapestry Segmentation. Even the Goliath-like Twin Cities directly west of St. Croix County, Wisconsin is carved up into market segments.

Use this link for a test drive of favorite neighborhoods and zips, Enter a zip code and select a couple of fields like population density, median age, or graduate and professional degrees to get started. Half the fun is reading the subsets. At another link, Esri has all the communities and neighbors in America mapped, and as they download, it’s easy to see why their program includes the Tapestry name. Give the two-page download a look here

Ersi’s GIS tool is compelling technology. The consumer spending of Soccer Moms is far different than, say, Green Acres. For prospective investors contemplating new market areas, the results help predict the best locations and a better bottom line. It’s proof once again there’s an exacting science behind most capital investment decisions.