Private sector employment in Wisconsin grew 0.8% from January to February, one of the strongest increases on record and the eighth best in the country for the month, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But even with the addition of 20,700 jobs last month, the state is yet to fully recover to its pre-pandemic employment levels and its job growth still lags behind most states on a longer-term basis.

Compared to February 2021, Wisconsin private sector employment is up 63,600, a nearly 2.6% increase that ranks only 45th in the country. Compared to February 2020, Wisconsin payrolls are still down by 50,000, a 1.9% decrease that ranks 31st in the country.

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