economy

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The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development's top leader resigned Friday after failing to find a way to address a massive backlog of unprocessed unemployment benefit claims sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 8:45 a.m. ET

U.S. employers added 1.8 million jobs last month, as the unemployment rate dipped to 10.2%.

The pace of hiring slowed from June, when employers added a record 4.8 million jobs. That suggests a long road back to full employment for the tens of millions of people who have been laid off during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Updated at 9:32 a.m. ET

The coronavirus pandemic triggered the sharpest economic contraction in modern American history, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

Alesandra Tejeda

As of Thursday, Milwaukee County has had more than 17,100 cases of COVID-19 and 374 deaths from the virus.

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley says that while the greatest impact of COVID-19 is on human life, it’s also impacting finances. He says the impact of the coronavirus could total near $300 million in lost jobs, reopening costs and service needs.

Updated at 11:34 a.m. ET

New claims for unemployment benefits rose last week for the first time in four months — since March 28 — as states began reimposing lockdown restrictions in an effort to reverse a surge of coronavirus cases.

More than 1.4 million new claims were filed during the week ending July 18, an increase of more than 100,000 over the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Chuck Quirmbach

Nearly half the Wisconsin small businesses that applied for a federally-funded grant triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic were initially rejected. But state officials hope more firms will still get into the program known as We're All In.     

Millions of Americans are facing the threat of eviction as a federal moratorium that has protected renters during the pandemic is set to expire Friday.

That eviction moratorium, coupled with unemployment assistance established in the CARES Act, has helped some renters stay in their homes.

Four months into the COVID-19 pandemic, some Americans still haven’t received any unemployment benefits.

Among them is DeiDra Blakley, a Milwaukee casino worker who was laid off in March. Here & Now spoke to her last week about her unsuccessful attempts to collect benefits from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

For Lorena Schneehagen, the additional $600 unemployment payment each week during the coronavirus pandemic has held her family's expenses together.

She's an out-of-work preschool teacher in Ann Arbor, Mich., whose son is about to start college.

"I need that to help pay his tuition," Schneehagen said. "And for food and just to pay the general bills."

Chuck Quirmbach

Updated on Friday at 11:32 a.m. CT

Wisconsin's unemployment rate dropped to 8.5% in June — a bit of good news that came Thursday as Democratic lawmakers released proposals to remove obstacles and broaden access to unemployment benefits.

The jobless numbers also came as Gov. Tony Evers' administration temporarily reassigned 100 state workers to help address a backlog in claims.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

Wisconsin's unemployment rate dropped from 13.6% in April to 12% in May, a “nice surprise” that reflects just the very beginning of the state's reopening after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the governor's stay-at-home order.

Carl Court / Getty Images

Many of us are about 12 weeks into being cooped up at home. Well, if we’ve followed public health guidelines to limit contact with other people. And even though the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the state's safer-at-home order, the local hotel and Airbnb industry is still feeling the effects of people taking social distancing seriously.

It may seem obvious, with double-digit unemployment and plunging economic output. But if there was any remaining doubt that the U.S. is in a recession, it's now been removed by the official scorekeepers at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The bureau's Business Cycle Dating Committee — the fat lady of economic opera — said the expansion peaked in February after a record 128 months, and we've been sliding into a pandemic-driven recession since.

Chuck Quirmbach

Wisconsin economic development leaders say they're still about 10 days from accepting applications for $75 million in federal grants to small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. But state officials also say they're working on the right message for independent-minded Wisconsin.

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More than half a million people in Wisconsin have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus outbreak, according to the latest figures from the Department of Workforce Development. But many have yet to get relief. The state has yet to pay 16% of claims.

Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Caleb Frostman says the backlog is due to the sheer volume of claims, shortage of staffing, and antiquated technology.

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