For years, economists felt that 5% unemployment represented “full employment” because there are always people who are out of work as they change employers or career paths. They referred to this as “frictional unemployment.”
Unemployment in 2019 was well below this level of frictional unemployment in all but one jurisdiction.
Clearly, Burnett County had a more challenging employment picture than the other jurisdictions.
Peak unemployment in Wisconsin in 2010 8.7% was similar to the national average, but was much worse in Polk and Burnett counties and substantially better in Pierce and St. Croix counties.
Unemployment fell for all jurisdictions between 2010 and 2018 and all experienced a slight uptick in unemployment in 2019.
Unemployment in Pierce and St. Croix counties has been similar to the state of Wisconsin as a whole since about 2016.
Unemployment in Polk and Burnett counties are consistently higher than Wisconsin throughout the 2007 to 2019 period.
Compared to the U.S. as a whole, Minnesota fared somewhat better during the Great Recession with unemployment topping out at 8% (vs. 9% at the national level).
Chisago County fared worse in the Great Recession, reaching a peak of 10.3% in 2009 and, though the rate fell dramatically (to 3.4% in 2018), it has remained slightly above the state rate throughout these years.
Washington County’s experience with unemployment matches Minnesota’s experience, but has been slightly lower throughout these years.