University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Employment and Training Institute


News coverage

BBC magazine story

Black men in prison logo

Wisconsin leads U.S. in black male incarceration

Wisconsin's Mass Incarceration of African American Males (2013)
New logo Statewide Imprisonment of Black Men in Wisconsin (2014)

Half of African American men in their 30s in Wisconsin have been incarcerated in state prisons (1990-2012).

Wisconsin's prison population has more than tripled since 1990, fueled by increased government funding for drug enforcement (rather than treatment), investments in prison construction, "truth-in-sentencing" replacing judicial discretion, concentrated policing in minority communities, and state incarceration for minor probation and supervision violations.

African Americans make up 7% of Wisconsin men in their twenties but 46% of the men in their twenties who have been in state prison.

Wisconsin's rate of imprisoning African American men in state prisons and local jails was highest in the U.S., as of 2010.

Prison Studies Slide Show | 2007-2014 ETI Prison Research | News Reports and Videos | 2-Page Summary | Incarceration Readings

Who's building Milwaukee?

An ETI study EEO-1 reports filed by construction firms with 100+ workers in the Milwaukee area found African Americans holding less than 4% of jobs and NO executive or senior management positions in 2011. Latinos similarly held few blue collar jobs and none of the high level management positions. Engagement of African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans will be essential for the coming-of-age labor force -- but appears to be a very low public policy priority.

Who's receiving training?

ETI's review of state-approved construction trade apprenticeships showed only 65 African Americans and 53 Hispanics being trained in union apprenticeships and 10 African Americans and 16 Hispanics being trained in non-union apprenticeships in the Milwaukee area as of April 2013. Statewide, only 9 African Americans and 3 Hispanics are training as operating engineering apprentices for road construction jobs. Women are underrepresented in all of the apprenticeship programs reviewed.

Do we need a "Milwaukee Plan"?

In 1970 the Nixon Administration directed Milwaukee construction trade unions and contractors to develop a "Milwaukee Plan" with racial hiring goals to substantially increase training and employment of African Americans and Latinos in the building trades. This paper explores the features of the plan adopted and compares data to help assess whether a "Milwaukee Plan" is needed today. MORE >>>

Driver's license research

driver's license report Over 12,000 Milwaukee teens ages 16-17 lack a driver's license or instruction permit even though the license is a critical asset for employment. Wisconsin has discontinued state aids for driver's education while requiring that school age youth participate in a school or commercial driving program as a condition for obtaining their license.

Almost 24,000 Milwaukee County residents have driver's license suspensions solely for failure to pay fines and civil forfeitures

License revocations to county residents have decreased by 2/3 since 2009 under state legislative reforms initiated by the Center for Driver's License Recovery and Employability (CDLRE).

The highest numbers of unlicensed drivers with suspensions and revocations are African American men in their prime early working years. MORE >>>

Using the driver's license for voter ID

voting symbol The 2005 ETI study of driver's license records by race/ethnicity found that in Milwaukee County among 18-24 year olds 58% of African American males and 57% of African American females lacked a driver's license as did 46% of Hispanic males and 61% of Hispanic females. In the rest of Wisconsin (outside Milwaukee County) only 15% of white males and 15% of white females ages 18-24 lacked a license.

The study research was cited by the federal court in its decision to stop DMV-issued photo ID requirements for voting in Wisconsin and also considered by the federal appeals court overturning this decision. MORE>>>

Income inequality among employed families

The annual ETI analysis of state income tax data showed 12 to 1 differences in family income by Milwaukee County neighborhood in 2012. Working-age married and single families in innercity zipcode 53206 had average incomes of $20,260 while families in the "North Shore" suburban zipcode 53217 had income averaging $253,082.

Educational opportunity and achievement gaps between children of wealth and children of poverty are profoundly influenced by these extreme differences in family resources. The tax data also showed a $17 million reduction in state earned income tax credit support for "working poor" families in the county after the 2011 state legislation cut EIC supports for families with more than one child. MORE >>>

dollar sign African American income assets

ETI's "Building on African American Assets: Resource Data for the ONE MKE Summit" identifies the zip code locations of the $3.5 billion in income of black residents of Milwaukee County. Over 70% of this income is concentrated in the 9 zip codes where African Americans make up the majority of the population. The report calls for locally-developed, accurate descriptions of the assets of Milwaukee neighborhoods, particularly given the misleading, negative stereotypes promoted by a number of the largest data marketing firms.

The NAACP Young Adult Committee has initiated "recycle the black dollar" campaigns to build support for local businesses and to raise awareness of the advantages of maximizing how long retail dollars remain in the community. MORE >>>

Milwaukee WPA Handicraft Project Online Exhibit
WPA Online Exhibit
map of 1 month of foreclosures
Milwaukee neighborhood indicators
Report on teens needing driver's licenses
Need for driver's ed in high school

Juvenile Corrections Educational Followup Study
Educational followup study of juveniles
released from Ethan Allen and Lincoln Hills schools
| ETI Reprint Series

Publications | Child care | Discrimination | Drilldown tools | Driver's license | Job openings surveys | Housing crisis | Housing integration | Neighborhood indicators | Prison issues | Reprints | School-to-work | Voter ID | Welfare research | Workforce training | WPA history

Employment and Training Institute
School of Continuing Education
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee