12/31/2013 12:26:00 PM Long-term jobless benefit cut to have impact
The most recent jobs numbers for Barron County show continued improvement in the unemployment rate. But a closer analysis of the numbers show employment numbers are still not back to prerecession levels. The Barron County jobless rate dipped to 5.6% in October-better than both the state average of 5.7% and the national average of 7%. The October rate is down slightly from September's 5.8% and far below the 9.9% high for the year recorded in -February. The raw number of jobless workers stood at 2,319 in February, but had declined more than 1,000 by October. It is estimated that Barron County had a workforce of 24,080 people in October. Of that total, 22,734 were employed and 1,346 were without work. Barron County has seen its annual jobless rate decline steadily since a high of 9.2% in 2009 to 7.6% last year. That rate is still well above prerecession jobless levels, which had been hovering around 5.5% for a number of years. The jobless rate numbers, however, don't reflect all the changes that have taken place in recent years. Along with the rise in unemployment during the recession, the county also saw a decline in the number of people in the workforce, which is the number of people at or looking for work. The 5.6% jobless rate this past October equals the annual jobless rate in 2004. But the number of people with jobs now is actually about 1,350 fewer than in 2004, when the total work was about 1,400 more than current levels.
Long-term jobless The failure by Congress to act before the end of 2013 to extend long-term jobless benefits is expected to have a major impact on the economy of the region. Data based on estimates by the White House Council of Economic Advisors and the state Department of Workforce Development indicated that nearly 3,500 people in and around Barron County will stop receiving unemployment checks. Unemployed people who have been seeking work for longer than 26 weeks could receive Unemployment checks for up to 54 weeks through the Federal Emergency Compensation program. But that program ended Dec. 28, meaning that those people will no longer receive checks. In Barron County alone the number of jobless workers affected is estimated at 530. Statewide 99,000 people are affected. That loss of benefit is expected to have an immediate effect on the local economy because those benefit checks are typically spent quickly for groceries and other life necessities. In Barron County the cost to the local economy is estimated at more than $1 million in 2014. When Barron County and its seven neighboring counties are take into consideration, benefits have stopped for a total of 3,470 people at an estimated loss of nearly $12 million to the economy of the region. Statewide the end of this federal program is expected to have an economic impact of some $35 million per month. If Congress does not extend the program, another 41,000 Wisconsin residents will lose jobless benefits by midyear. - - - -