October 2020 Unemployment

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Month Seven of COVID-19:
St. Croix County’s October Unemployment Rate is 4.5%

On November 25th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary October 2020 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 34 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s October rate was estimated at 4.5%, which is lower than September’s final rate of 4.7% and August’s final rate of 6.3%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 2.6%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from September to October decreased in eight (8) of the 72 counties over the month. The rates ranged from 3.1% in Clark to 14.3% in Menominee. 

Preliminary unemployment rates declined in three (3) of Wisconsin’s 34 largest municipalities from September to October. Rates ranged from 3.6% in Fitchburg to 8.6% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in October include Clark (3.1%), Pepin (also at 3.1%), Kewaunee (3.2%), Lafayette (also at 3.2%), and Taylor (also at 3.2%). Menominee County had the highest rate in October at 14.3%, followed by Forest (10.4%), Iron (8.0%), Milwaukee (7.6%), and Adams (7.3%).

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 4.5%, October’s preliminary rate in Dunn is 3.9%, while Pierce reported 4.0% and Polk came in at 4.5.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The October 2020 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 4.2% which is lower than September’s final rate of 5.9% and August’s final rate of 7.8%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 2.5% in October 2019.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in October was estimated at 5.7%, which is higher than September’s final rate of 5.4% and August’s final rate of 6.3%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.5%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in October was estimated at 4.6%, which is lower than September’s final rate of 5.9% and August’s final rate of 7.4%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.3%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for October was estimated at 6.9%, which is lower than September’s final rate of 7.9% and August’s final rate of 8.4%. The October rate represents the sixth straight month the rate has declined. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.6%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for October was 67.2%, which is lower than September’s final rate of 67.4% and  August’s final rate of 65.6%. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 67.0%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in October was estimated at 61.7% which is higher than September’s final rate of 61.4% and the same as August’s final rate of 61.7%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 63.3%. 

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

EDC Hosts Conversation with Linda Skoglund

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EDC Hosts Benefits Benchmarking Conversation with Linda Skoglund on December 15th

Please join St. Croix EDC on Tuesday, December 15th starting at 11:00 for an informative conversation on benefits benchmarking with Linda Skoglund, managing partner of JA Counter, an Alera Group Company.

Now in its tenth year, the Western Wisconsin Benefits Benchmarking survey was recently completed by JA Counter.  In addition to the usual benchmarks around benefits, the JA Counter team identified themes found within the survey as well as emerging trends employers will see in the upcoming year(s). Those themes include the ongoing talent shortage driving the need to effectively communicate culture as a top priority, with increasing trends in employer innovation to offer a Total Rewards style benefits package valued by employees in all stages of life and career.

Join the discussion with Linda Skoglund on JA Counter’s local and national benchmarking results as well as how employers are rising to the challenge to offer unique benefits to attract and retain their workers.

About Linda Skoglund

Linda is the managing partner of JA Counter, an Alera Group Company. An insurance industry leader, she is responsible for the agency’s strategic direction and continued growth. She oversees JA Counter’s employee benefit and consulting practice while managing the organization’s vision, direction and client relationships.  Linda has specialized expertise in areas of benefits consulting, regulatory compliance, benefits administration and insurance product design.  She is the lead benefit consultant for large employer groups, specializing in the public sector.

RSVP to nita@stcroixedc.com for the Zoom link to ensure your place at the meeting.

EDC Hosts Conversation with Scott Hodek

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EDC Hosts Conversation with Scott Hodek

On Thursday, December 3, 2020 starting at 11:00 a.m., please join St. Croix EDC for an interactive conversation with Scott Hodek, Chief, Office of Economic Advisors, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a game changer on many fronts, including unemployment, workforce trends, labor force participation, and consumer spending. Mr. Hodek will present timely information on current economic conditions and realities, along with potential solutions for the St. Croix Valley, State of Wisconsin, and United States.

RSVP to nita@stcroixedc.com for the Zoom link to ensure your place at the meeting.

The Grinch Shops ‘Small’


The Grinch Shops ‘Small’


At least one elusive Grinch in the St. Croix Valley was puzzled to see his likeness on display in Big Box retail stores on the first weekend of October. Inside the Big Box, the Grinch action figure was joined by the Jolly Old Elf, a reindeer named Rudolph, a beagle named Snoopy, a Nutcracker Soldier, and a family of snow people, formerly referred to as snowmen (women). All were there a full month (28 days) before Halloween. The Grinch was particularly disappointed because leaves and pine needles were holding tight to branches and Halloween costumes were still marked at full price.

Along came Halloween and a time change, which gave the forward-thinking Big Boxes one additional hour to usher in even more holiday surprises. Trees, mangers, lights, wreaths, cards, and ceramic villages all awaited early bird consumers. Poof. By November 2nd, there was little or no trace that Halloween 2020 ever occurred, although this celebration enjoyed a strong run going back to mid-August arrivals at the same Big Box locales. Grinch missed out on the blowout prices on costumes. Who needs another ill-fitting likeness anyway?

Before there are mad dashes to the regional malls or online cyber deals, Mr. Grinch is hoping for a safe, two-dessert Thanksgiving on November 26th. Appropriate guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control shall be observed. There’s plenty of time for a bumper-to-bumper shopping experience at malls or the point-and-click online experience according to our antagonist, Grinch.

Rest assured, Grinch will venture out for holiday shopping. It may start and end in Whoville. What? Grinch is a hometown booster it seems. First conceived in 2010, an event called Small Business Saturday is a national promotion relying on local supporters to encourage residents to shop in their respective communities. Amateur historians and economists like Grinch recall that in 2010 the world was mired in a deep economic decline, sometimes referred to as The Great Recession. Small Business Saturday worked in its inaugural year and continues to gain momentum.

Shopping ‘small’ makes a whopping impact. Local spending in the U.S. on Small Business Saturday last year was estimated at $19.6 billion, with a ‘b’. And with a global pandemic front and center in 2020, the need to support local shops is imperative. In short, fewer businesses on most main streets are opening or are staying open.

Small businesses and retailers are the foundation of successful, vibrant communities. Through grit and determination, they find ways to persevere. The neighborhood deli, bar and grill, yoga studio, bakery, coffee shop, and art loft all could use an extra purchase. Choose takeout, gift cards, cash, or the same-as-cash chamber bucks option. One study says for every dollar spent at a small business means approximately 67 cents stays in the local community.

For holiday shopping and year-round shopping in the St. Croix Valley, join the new hometown booster Mr. Grinch and experience it locally.