Wisconsin unemployment rate in April hits 14.1%, a level not seen since the Great Depression

385,900 private-sector jobs lost from March-April

MADISON, Wis. — The unemployment rate in Wisconsin in April hit 14.1%, up from 3.1% in March, state officials said Thursday. That’s a level not seen since the Great Depression.

The Department of Workforce Development said preliminary employment estimates for the month of April show that Wisconsin lost 439,400 total non-farm and 385,900 private-sector jobs from March to April.

“Today’s report shows the significant impact that the COVID-19 global pandemic has had on the Wisconsin economy, and underscores the importance of rationally and safely reopening our state,” DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman said in a statement. “A strategy based on science that reduces the likelihood of additional outbreaks and further economic instability is the only way to get Wisconsin back on the path of historically low unemployment rates that the state was experiencing prior to COVID-19.”

The state’s unemployment rate is just below national average of 14.7%, DWD said.

April was the first full month of the state’s Safer at Home order issued by Gov. Tony Evers in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic that forced most nonessential businesses to close and led to skyrocketing unemployment.

Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate in April was 66.6 percent.

The US Department of Labor said Thursday that about 38.6 million people nationally have filed for jobless claims because of the coronavirus.