November 2020 Unemployment

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Month Eight of COVID-19:
St. Croix County’s November Unemployment Rate is 4.3%

On December 23rd, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary November 2020 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 34 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s November rate was estimated at 4.3%, which is lower than the final rate of 4.7% for both October and September. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.0%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from October to November declined or stayed the same in 65 of the 72 counties. The rates ranged from 2.9% in Lafayette to 10.3% in Menominee. 

Preliminary unemployment rates declined in all of Wisconsin’s 34 largest municipalities from October to November. Rates ranged from 3.2% in Fitchburg to 7.3% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in November include Lafayette (2.9%), Kewaunee (3.1%), Calumet (3.2%), Clark (also at 3.2%), and Green (3.3%). Menominee County had the highest rate in November at 10.3%, followed by Forest (8.4%), Iron (8.3%), Bayfield (7.3%), and Adams (also at 7.3%).

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 4.3%, November’s preliminary rate in Dunn is 3.9%, while Pierce reported 4.0% and Polk came in at 5.0%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The November 2020 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 3.9%, which is lower than October’s final rate of 4.2 % and September’s final rate of 5.9%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 2.7% in November 2019.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in November was estimated at 5.0%, which is lower than October’s final rate of 6.0% and September’s final rate of 5.4%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.5%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in November was estimated at 4.4%,  which is lower than October’s final rate 4.6% and September’s final rate of 5.9%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.3%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for November was estimated at 6.7%, which is lower than October’s final rate of 6.9% and September’s final rate of 7.9%. The November rate represents the seventh straight month the U.S. rate has declined. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.5%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for November was 66.9%, which is lower than October’s final rate of 67.4% and September’s final rate of 67.4%. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was also 66.9%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in November was estimated at 61.5% which is lower than October’s final rate of 61.7% but higher than September’s final rate of 61.4%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 63.2%. 

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

Benchmark Conversation Recording

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Recording of Benefits Benchmarking Conversation with Linda Skoglund

An informative conversation on benefits benchmarking with Linda Skoglund, managing partner of JA Counter, an Alera Group Company was held on Tuesday December 15, 2020. You can rewatch the Zoom event by clicking the link here until December 29.  If you have any additional questions, please reach out to Amber Richardson at, or you can reach her at JA Counter 715-246-8063.

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.

2021 St. Croix Valley Resolutions


2021 St. Croix Valley Resolutions


2020 is nearly in the rear view mirror of life. Farewell. Goodbye. Adieu.

Make no mistake, 2020 had its rewarding moments. A few. They may come to mind momentarily. Births. Engagements. Weddings and civil unions. Anniversaries. New business incorporations. Graduations. New jobs. Promotions. A new or newer car. A first apartment. A home.

If a favorite team was victorious in professional football’s ‘big game’ or baseball’s world series in 2020, then congratulations. Fame and celebrations are fleeting. Many will recall champions being crowned, but perhaps a majority will be vague on the identity of the winning teams. The commercials were hilarious. Weren’t they? The memory bank suddenly short circuited.

In March a pandemic gripped the globe. No need to plow old ground. Business, industry, government, education, and healthcare all turned on their collective sides. One headline in early December read, ‘July is the new January’ meaning most workers typically use their remaining vacation or personal days around Christmas and return after New Year’s Day. In 2021, the most realistic plan to return in-person is July 1st. Fingers crossed.

High speed bandwidth at home and work has been stretched. Schooling may occur at a kitchen table or couch. Or in bed. Remote workers appear dressed up on screen, but come on, Green Bay Packer PJ’s? The pandemic proved once and for all that digital access is a necessity. And in 2020 the term ‘zoom’ took on a new meaning beyond ‘to move or travel very quickly’. Oh to have been part of zoom’s public stock offering a while back.

The St. Croix Valley in Wisconsin is full of resilient people, businesses and institutions. A hardy lot we are. And a pandemic brought out the best. Kindness, generosity, and volunteering. When bars and restaurants closed, community members responded with take-out orders. More than one elected or appointed official heard it from both sides of arguments. Public and private healthcare personnel stepped up, many working extra hours, seven days a week. Teachers, instructors and professors learned new delivery techniques.

Traditional New Year Resolutions are suddenly passe. A new diet; more exercise; more family time. Raise the bar. For 2021, the St. Croix Valley hereby resolves to lead the way – starting in neighborhoods, in communities, in classrooms, and with business, industry, and civic organizations.

Borrowing a couple lines from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo during a daily COVID update last March, he said, “There are two great New York expressions that I use all the time. Anything I build in New York always has two expressions on it. One, Excelsior, says it all. Ever upwards, ever upwards. Aspirational. We can be better, we will be better. We’re going to aim higher. We’re going to improve ourselves. Excelsior, our state motto. It’s on the seal behind me. Excelsior. And the other expression is e pluribus unum, out of many one. Unity, unity. You put those two things together, it says it all. Aim high, do better, believe you can do better, be optimistic. And the way you get there is through unity and togetherness and cooperation and through mutuality and community.”

Challenges are ahead in the St. Croix Valley and across this great nation. But we got this!

Happy 2021 in the St. Croix Valley.