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UW-Milwaukee - Center for Economic Development

Technical Assistance Report Abstract

An Assessment of Transportation Service Options: A Profile of the Grandview Walnut Heights Community Presented to Community Residents, 1998, by Lauren McHargue, Deborah Curtis and Justin First

Executive Summary

  • In the city of Milwaukee, the unemployment rate for African Americans rose from 8.3 to 18.6 percent between 1970 and 1990. For the Grandview Walnut Heights community, more than 77 percent African American, the unemployment picture was far worse. In 1990, community residents were unemployed at a rate of 22.6 percent and more than 43 percent of families were earning less than $10,000 annually.

  • The Milwaukee economy lost 52 percent of its manufacturing jobs since 1967. From 1987 to 1992, manufacturing jobs within the city decreased by 11.1 percent, while increasing by 9.9 percent in the Milwaukee suburbs during that same period. As a result, city of Milwaukee residents, particularly African Americans, have faced declining job opportunities located within a reasonable commute from their homes. Labor market statistics reveal a "mismatch" between unemployed inner-city workers and unfilled jobs located in suburban counties.

  • Current unemployment rates in suburban counties such as Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha Counties are 1.7, 2.1, and 2.0 percent respectively. Milwaukee County's overall unemployment rate is 3.1 percent, while the unemployment rate in the Grandview Walnut Height's neighborhood is 22.6 percent.

  • Grandview Walnut Heights' residents depend heavily on the public transit system to reach job opportunities. Residents report that existing public transportation services do not meet their needs, particularly in reaching jobs outside of the city of Milwaukee. Problems with existing public transportation included: too many transfers, long commutes, and limited and/or no service available for second and third shift workers.

  • Suburban employers with a large numbers of entry level positions indicate that increased public transportation services into industrial areas is vital to their success in attracting workers. Employers hardest hit by worker shortages are those with the largest numbers of entry level positions to fill. While some employers are working to address the transportation needs of employees, the majority report that finding solutions to transit-related problems is the responsibility of government and/or employees.

  • A profile of local transit services revealed that there are a number of publicly- and privately-funded programs designed to help urban residents access job opportunities located outside of the city of Milwaukee. The majority of these programs, however, are not designed to serve as long-term transportation alternatives. Moreover, most services do address problems such as: long commute times; efficient second and third shift schedules; and flexibility.

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