In more than 1,000 counties, or about one in three, the unemployment rate is higher than it was a year ago. That includes all 72 counties in Wisconsin and all 10 in New Hampshire, as well as most in Michigan, Minnesota and North Carolina. The numbers can be volatile from month to month, but this trend remains even if you look at entire quarters or years.
Marinette County is a good example. At about 4 percent, its unemployment rate remains low by historical standards. But it has risen a full percentage point in the past year, and Grasso and her team have seen the fallout firsthand.
Unemployment is rising in parts of the country, particularly in a few states that are likely to be critical to the 2020 presidential election. Of the 10 closest states in the last election, four — Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and North Carolina — have seen substantial rises in unemployment over the past year, according to the latest Labor Department data. Others have seen smaller rises, but it’s too early to read much into the often-revised numbers.
Economists say it’s telling that many of the places experiencing rising joblessness are in areas that still depend on manufacturing and agriculture. Those industries have been hit hard by President Trump’s trade war with China.
The global economic slowdown and dramatic shifts in retail are also playing a role in some job losses. Beleaguered retailers fear that the tariffs Trump wants to put in place at the end of the year would raise prices on popular items like laptops and phones, driving away still more customers…..