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UW-Milwaukee - Center for Economic Development

Technical Assistance Report Abstract

Employment and Wage Trends in Targeted Industrial Sectors: A Report for the High Wage Dislocated Worker Project, February 1997, by Pamela S.Fendt


Sectoral targeting initiatives are based on the premise that the economic well-being of a community, defined as the availability of stable employment at good wages, can be bolstered by determining the industrial sectors that are key to the area's economic performance and then making these sectors the focus of comprehensive economic development activities.

The sectoral targeting approach stresses the strengths of existing businesses and seeks to retain and expand them through a better understanding of their role in the local and global economy. The research that provides the groundwork for sectoral targeting initiatives also gives communities a better understanding of the kind of new businesses that have the most potential for success.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Center for Economic Development (UWMCED) began a sectoral targeting research project in 1993. After compiling and analyzing earnings and employment information by four-digit Standard Industrial Classification codes for the metropolitan Milwaukee labor market, and conducting research on national and international industrial trends, UWMCED developed recommendations for six industrial sectors that could be the focus of a targeting initiative for metropolitan Milwaukee. The following criteria were considered in the selection of the industries chosen through UWMCED's research:

  • Industries that have average wages above $20,000.
  • Industries that have available entry-level occupations.
  • Industries that have a high value-added economic impact in the localcommunity.
  • Industries that have opportunities for job growth.

One of the goals of the High Wage Dislocated Worker Demonstration Project is to incorporate labor market research into the process of attaching people to jobs. By using the industrial sectors identified by UWMCED as the targets of the re-employment efforts, the project objective of involving economic development entities in the identification of job openings and skill requirements is advanced. Of further interest will be the attempt to assess what impact this targeting of employment efforts to a set of specific industries will have on regional economic conditions. This report summarizes the trends and current condition of the six identified industrial sectors and discusses the implications for the training and employment activities of this project. The report also identifies 16 other sectors that offer high employment growth potential at high wages. Almost all of the sectors identified in this report pay above the wage rates of $25,900 for Milwaukee County placements and $28,840 for WOW placements set by the project.

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