December 2021 Unemployment

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St. Croix County’s December Unemployment Rate at 1.9%

On January 26th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary December 2021 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 34 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s December rate was estimated at 1.9%, which is higher than the final rate of 1.6% for November and is the same as October’s final rate of 1.9%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 4.3%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates stayed the same from November to December in 12 of the 72 counties and increased in the remaining 60. Rates declined in all 72 counties year-over-year. The rates ranged from 1.3% in Lafayette to 4.3% in Menominee.

Preliminary unemployment rates from November to December declined or stayed the same in 26 of Wisconsin’s 34 largest cities and increased in the remaining eight. Year-over-year the rates declined in all 34 cities. Rates ranged from 1.2% in Madison to 3.3% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in December include Lafayette (1.3%), Calumet (1.4%), Dane (also at 1.4%), Fond du Lac (1.5%), and Grant (also at 1.5%). Menominee County had the highest rate in December at 4.3%, followed by Iron (4.1%), Forest (3.8%), Adams (also at 3.8%), and Bayfield (3.7%).

St. Croix, Pierce, and Polk counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 1.9%, December’s preliminary rate in Pierce was 2.1% and Polk’s rate was 2.8%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The December 2021 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 2.5%, which is higher than November’s final rate of 2.2%, but lower than October’s final rate of 2.6%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 4.5% in December 2020.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in December was estimated at 2.8%, which is lower than November’s final rate of 3.0% and October’s final rate of 3.2%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 4.0%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in December was estimated at 3.1%, which is lower than November’s final rate of 3.3% and October’s final rate of 3.5%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 4.7%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for December was estimated at 3.9%, which is lower than November’s final rate of 4.2% and October’s final rate of 4.6%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 6.7%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for December was estimated at 66.4% which is the same rate for both November and October. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 65.5%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in December was estimated at 61.9%, which is the same as the final rate for November and higher than October’s final rate of 61.6%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 61.5%.

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

Cabin Fever Beaters


Cabin Fever Beaters


Cooped up and restless? Not motivated? Lethargic? Same feeling as a year ago? Skip the doctor’s appointment and save the copay. WebMD strongly suggests it’s a case of cabin fever (or the ongoing symptoms impacting most high schoolers or college crowd at home between semesters).

Let’s go with cabin fever as the diagnosis. Young adults in question could very well grow out of their chronic woes, in due time. Wiki says cabin fever refers to “the distressing, claustrophobic irritability or restlessness experienced when a person, or group, is stuck at an isolated location or in confined quarters for an extended time.”

Some have heard stories of a gold miner or woodsman leaving the safety of a cabin during an old fashioned blizzard. A local story involves a transplanted family from Arizona enjoying (surviving) their first winter in the St. Croix Valley. Residents observed their garage door roll open on a Saturday with exhaust from the SUV billowing away. Twenty minutes later, the SUV backed down the driveway to the mail box where assorted mail was collected and up the driveway the vehicle sped. In all of these cases the decisions of the miner, woodsman and valley transplants proved irrational, making it a clear case of cabin fever.

Play along and combine a few subzero days and nights in the St. Croix Valley with a worldwide pandemic. This could be ‘the fever’ on bovine growth hormones. Hang in there. This too shall pass.

As for a cure or therapy, shaking the fever could be as easy as getting out and socializing. Remember though, the pandemic and related variants are out there and seek interaction with unsuspecting partners, too.

Try these diversions from the winter blahs:
* Volunteer your time (think: food shelf or animal shelter);
* Clear a neighbor’s driveway or sidewalks, especially retirees or vets;
* Binge a full season of your favorite show or watch a foreign movie (1988’s Cinema Paradiso is trending);
* Order take-out from a locally-owned restaurant or café;
* Make a pizza, including the dough, from scratch;
* Visit a state park, a ski trail, or rent a fat tire bike;
* Tour a micro-brewery or distillery and buy some products on the way out;
* Attend a local hockey or basketball game (UW-River Falls boasts the nation’s #4 women’s hockey team in Division III).

Help is on the way. The sun set in the St. Croix Valley at around 4:33 p.m. on December 21st. By January 31st, it sets at around 5:18 p.m. Melting snow on a roofline will produce icicles, even on a bitterly cold day. Cargo shorts will be paired with sweatshirts, hoodies and sandals. And by April there’s a chance that homes transition from the furnace mode to air conditioning. It happens almost every year.

Here’s to winter in the St. Croix Valley. Get out and make the most of it. All too soon there’ll be those dreaded spring cleaning chores.

Top Businesses Announced

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St. Croix EDC Names Top Businesses/Individual for 2021

Angela Popenhagen, president of St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC), announced the EDC’s selection of Aster Beverage (City of New Richmond), Alms Creative (City of Hudson), and Indue (Town of Hudson) as recipients of the 2021 Business of the Year awards in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.

Ruthie Johnston is the recipient of the EDC Directors Award, an occasional award presented to an individual or organization championing economic development through innovation and actions, making St. Croix County an exceptional place for business, industry, and residents.

They will be honored during an online celebration scheduled for Thursday, February 24, 2022, starting at 5:00 o’clock p.m.

“The 2021 honorees represent the very best of business and industry in St. Croix County,” said EDC President Angela Popenhagen. “Each possess unique characteristics that sets them apart as leaders in their respective fields,” she added.

About the 2021 Honorees
Aster Beverage is the 2021 Emerging Business of the Year (based in St. Croix County and in business for five or fewer years). The company was formed in late 2020 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Watt Beverage, Inc. and commenced operations in New Richmond last year in a previously vacant facility in the city’s business park. Aster operates as a beverage manufacturer specializing in ready-to-drink and ready-to-serve functional beverages, hard and nonalcoholic sparkling products, and as a contractual co-packer for other beverage companies. The co-packing partners are local, regional, and national operations. The company is led by Tom Meyer and a number of partners who have ownership interests in Big Watt Beverage and the limited liability company which own the real estate and capital equipment at 1280 Madison Avenue.

Alms Creative is the 2021 Small Business of the Year (29 or fewer employees). It is a full service video production agency with over 25 years of experience in all phases of production. Based in Hudson, Alms Creative is owned and led by William (Bill) Alms. The company was launched in 2013 and used Alms’ passion of storytelling with nonprofit organizations as its foundation. Alms and staff rely on their respective keen eyes and focus to produce authentic awareness and content for clients. In late 2021, Alms Creative was awarded two Gold Marcom awards for marketing and communication excellence. Bill Alms serves as an alderperson on the Hudson Common Council and represents constituents in the city’s second district.

Indue is the 2021 Business of the Year (30 or more employees). Indue is led by Tom Scanlan. The company has been in St. Croix County since 2004 and has grown from five employees in 2000, to 20 in 2004, and to over 100 including the associates in a Michigan sales office. Indue provides flooring services to companies in the food industry sector throughout the upper Midwest, east central and southern U.S., as well as Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico. Reflective customers include Mead Johnson, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Mars, Incorporated, and American Crystal Sugar.

Ruthie Johnston is the recipient of the EDC Directors Award. She is the CEO of Croix Gear and Machining in Hudson. Her story is one of opportunity within a tragedy. In 2010, Ruthie’s husband Mark unexpectedly passed away. Ruthie was not involved in the family’s manufacturing business, but was thrust in the leadership role of running the company. Although not prepared, she stepped into the CEO role of then-named Marine Associates. From Day One, she asked her leadership team for assistance and grew into the role of the leader. The company name was changed to Croix Gear to more accurately reflect the manufactured products. Numerous metrics and goals were introduced along with a 23,000 square foot addition in 2016. Through the efforts of Ruthie and her leadership team, Croix Gear continues to prosper. The company’s tagline is Precision with Purpose. Her success is testament to learning and adapting.

Event Details
This is the 28th business awards program conducted by St. Croix EDC. The online event is open to the public but reservations are required. Additional details on connecting to the event will follow.

About St. Croix EDC
The EDC was established in 1994 as a public-private business league that operates as the independent economic development arm of St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Reflective activities include marketing and communication, business retention, business expansion, business recruitment, new business incorporations, workforce development, and advocacy on behalf of business and industry. Initiatives taken by St. Croix EDC help improve the business climate of St. Croix County, allowing businesses, large and small, to grow and prosper.

For more information, contact William Rubin or Nita Dusek at (715) 381-4383.