Workforce Development Area Directory

WDA 7 - Northwest

image: WDA 11 Map of CountiesThe Northwest Wisconsin region is composed of 10 counties; Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor and Washburn. The region covers over 7 million acres, roughly 19 percent of the land surface in the state. Nearly 4.8 million acres are covered with forests, another 247,000 acres are under water and over a million acres are in farms. Roughly 114,000 acres are in the region's four Chippewa reservations: Bad River, Lac Courte Oreilles, Red Cliff, and St. Croix. The regional economy is as diverse as the geography it covers.

The economies range from manufacturing to tourism and recreation to transportation and shipping to health services. The counties of Burnett, Price, Rusk, and Taylor have a large manufacturing base; Bayfield, Iron, and Sawyer cater to tourism traffic; Ashland supplies regional health services; Douglas is a transportation spur and retail provider; and Washburn is central for many government agencies. Together the employers in all industries in the region provided more than 69,000 jobs in 2011.

In 2011, the region's labor force of 91,850 included 83,750 employed residents. The unemployment rate for Northwest Wisconsin in 2011 of 8.8 percent is down from the Great Recession high of 10.2 percent rate in 2009.


Wisconsin’s Northwest WDA has 10,615 sq. miles in land area and a population density of 17 people per square mile. From 2001 to 2011, WDA 7’s population declined by 1.3%.

In 2011, the WDA average household size was 2.23 people compared to an average family size of 2.74 people. WDA 7 has a total of 109* K-12 public schools. There are 13 post-secondary schools, including 4 WI Tech College Campuses. The average ACT score, in 2012, was 22.02, which is slightly above the State’s average of 21.98.*

In 2011, education & health services was the largest of the 11 major industrial sectors within WDA 7 with an average annual wage of $33,540. ** Per capita income grew by 12.43% between 2000 and 2010 (adjusted for inflation). ***

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
* Source: DPI
**Source: DWD, BWT, LMI, QCEW
***Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

Last updated 12/27/2012 E-Government Portal
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