Janesville has seen its share of economic reversals. The city where Parker Pen Co. was founded lost the company headquarters in a 1987 buyout. In 2008, its auto assembly plant shut down, the oldest General Motors plant in North America. Now, the Wisconsin city is staging a comeback, thanks to a pickup in its manufacturing, food processing, and health-care sectors.
Janesville's unemployment rate in August dropped to 8.8 percent, down from 11.1 percent a year earlier. That's the fourth-largest decline among US metropolitan areas, according to the US Department of Labor.
"In Wisconsin, we are seeing a tortoise recovery," says Roberta Gassman,secretary of Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development. But "our unemployment rate is lower than the other heavy Midwestern manufacturing states."