Northwoods unemployment numbers ticked up late last year, but a state economist says that is not unusual for the winter months.

Economists often say an unemployment rate of four percent is statistically full employment. Only six of the state's 72 counties are at four percent or higher, with the majority well below it.

The Department of Workforce Development recently released the local employment and unemployment rates for November. Iron county had the state's highest rate of 5.3 percent. Forest county had the state's seventh-highest rate at 3.9 percent, Vilas was ninth at 3.8 percent, Langlade county is at 3.2 percent, Price and Oneida county at 3.1 percent and Lincoln at 2.5 percent.

The latest state unemployment numbers show only three of Wisconsin's counties to be above 4 percent unemployment. Economists often point to four percent unemployment as statistically near full employment.

Menominee county has the state's highest rate at 4.8 percent, followed by Iron county at 4.4 and Forest county at 4.1 percent.

68  Wisconsin counties now are below four percent unemployment.

State labor economist Mitchell Rupp in Wausau says the numbers reflect the needs of businesses.... Skeeze

Economists often say when unemployment hits 4.0, the nation is at statistical full employment. After the release of the September jobless numbers, only 7 of Wisconsin's 72 counties are below the statistical  full employment level.

State Labor Economist Mitchell Rupp in Wausau looks at the Northwoods numbers...

"....Forest (county)is at 4.5..., Langlade is at 3.6...,Lincoln is at 3.1, Oneida is at 3.0, Vilas is at 3.4,...."

Price county is at 3.4 percent and Iron has the state's second-highest rate at 5.1.

The number of people continuing to be out of work in the Northwoods is lower than one year ago.

Numbers released this week by the Department of Workforce Development shows Iron county with the state's second highest rate at 7.8 percent, but that is down just under one point from a year ago.

Other Northwoods counties all showed at least a half-point lower than one year ago, and in Oneida county's case, 1 percent lower at 5.6 percent and Vilas down 1.2 percent from 7.4 last year. Dane county has the state's lowest rate at 2.9 percent, Bayfield the highest at 8 percent.

Wisconsin fell to last place in a national ranking of start-up businesses last month. Today one group aiming to change that met in Minocqua. The Wisconsin Technology Council draws people from medical, tech, and educational fields around the state to share ideas and promote innovation.

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

Over 300 people had a chance to see inside Printpack’s new facility in Rhinelander.  The packaging company held public tours and a grand opening event Monday.

Printpack prints cellophane wrappers for things like candy and granola bars.  And its new 200-thousand square foot location in Rhinelander will be churning out more than twice as many wrappers as before. 

Plant manager Pat Marquart says the biggest challenge in relocating has been training employees on high-tech equipment that’s brand new to them. 

Nicolet Career Expo Draws Hundreds

May 13, 2014
Peg Arnold

More than 600 middle school students learned about career options today in Rhinelander.  Seventh graders from schools around the Northwoods attended the Nicolet College Career Expo. 

Organizer and Career Coach Kelly Anunson says it’s the second time Nicolet has hosted the event…that tries to draw a variety of exhibitors.

S Lampkin / US Air Force

A job training program is looking to help women and minorities join the construction trade.   

The Transportation Alliance for New Solutions- or TRANS program - starts later this month.  Coordinator Kim Kircher says the 120-hour course will cover everything from math skills to hands-on use of tools.    

“We try to prepare them for a trade in the construction field.  They have speakers come in – we have contractors come in, they have mock interviews, they do a resume.”

Terry Rutlin-Nicolet College

WXPR's Ken Krall took a look at the future with some Northwoods 8th graders  at Nicolet College in Rhinelander. He took the "Heavy Metal Tour."

Not a rock band, but a job fair of sorts: the "Heavy Metal Tour" is sponsored by Nicolet College,  North Central Technical College, 27 manufacturing employers, and boards and alliances.

Rene Daniels from North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board says the goal is to give 8th graders a look at careers they might not have considered.

Blind Nomad /

One side stands by the story, the other says it wasn't accurate.  Did Governor Walker say the state won't actually create 250,000 jobs?  Ken Krall has the details.  

Earlier this week, WJFW TV in Rhinelander talked to Governor Scott Walker in Merrill.

The WJFW story said Walker had backed off the promise, telling the station he said they state was more than 133,000 down because of the recession and 250,000 wasn't a "magic number" but rather about jobs affecting people.