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Northwoods unemployment remains high

RHINELANDER, Wis. (WXPR) -- While Wisconsin's overall unemployment rate continues to drop, Northwoods unemployment continues above state average. In Iron county's situation, they have the highest unemployment rate in the state.

State numbers released Thursday show Iron county at 13.2 percent, Vilas fourth highest at 9.5 percent, Forest is at 8.1 percent, but Oneida, Lincoln and Langlade counties are lower in the 7 percent range. Price county is at 5.3 percent. Wisconsin's average is 5.8 percent.

State economist Scott Hodek says the November numbers reflect hiring for the holiday season, but other seasonal jobs end for the year. He sees a split between southern and northern Northwoods counties. "Forest, Langlade, and Lincoln had the same trend we saw statewide where they were up over the month but down over the year. So here we're seeing the labor force up, and the number of unemployed is dropping in those counties."

But more northern counties have a different trend. "Where we see some differences are with Oneida and Vilas. We saw both of their unemployment rates rise over the month, which is a normal seasonal movement for them. But in Vilas it was up over the year, it's one of the few counties we've seen that in. Oneida was actually below (last year's rate). For both counties we saw a drop in the labor force."

Hodek says in both Vilas and Oneida counties, the number of employed persons also dropped. Hodek speculates it had something to do with tourism.

The state's lowest rate was in Pierce and St. Croix counties at about 3.5 percent.

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