By Thomas Content
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
04/14/2016

A pair of economic reports out Thursday paint a picture of a tightening labor market reaching practically full employment at both the state and national levels.

Wisconsin added more jobs over the past 12 months than it has in a dozen years, according to the latest numbers compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released by the state Department of Workforce Development. The state unemployment rate in March fell to 4.5%, below the national average by 0.5%.

Separately, the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits declined last week, matching a 42-year low.

These are strong signs for the economy, though some observers raised questions about the quality of the jobs that have been created.

The labor sector is providing some of the most positive news about the state of the economy, as both job creation and participation in the labor force have picked up in recent months, said economist Abdur Chowdhury at Marquette University.

Even the increase in the national jobless rate in March was “for the right reason,” he said, in that the driver for the increase was a surge of 400,000 people entering the labor market that month.

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