University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Employment and Training Institute

Brief Summary

Survey of Job Openings in the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area: Week of May 18, 1998

The week of May 18, 1998, an estimated 34,231 full and part-time jobs were open for immediate hire in the four-county Milwaukee metropolitan area. These openings are the result of company expansions, labor shortages in difficult to fill positions, seasonal fluctuations, and normal turnover among the 787,101 employed workers in the area. Estimates of job openings are based on semi-annual surveys of area employers conducted by the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute and the UWM Institute for Survey and Policy Research, as part of a collaborative Labor Market Project with the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee Public Schools, and Private Industry Council of Milwaukee County. The project is supported by the government partners, Helen Bader Foundation, Milwaukee Foundation, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Total Openings

  • In May employers were seeking an estimated 19,259 full-time workers and 14,972 part- time employees. The largest numbers of full-time openings were concentrated in service industries (30 percent of total openings), retail and wholesale trade (23 percent), and manufacturing (20 percent).

  • Employers reported 12,253 job openings in Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington (WOW) counties, accounting for 39 percent of full-time and 31 percent of part-time openings in the metropolitan area.

  • Employers in the suburbs and WOW counties found it more difficult to fill full- time and part-time openings than in the City of Milwaukee. For full-time job openings, 55 percent were identified as difficult to fill in the WOW counties, 52 percent in the Milwaukee County suburbs, 41 percent in the City of Milwaukee, and 40 percent in the central city neighborhoods. For part-time job openings, 42 percent were considered difficult to fill in the WOW counties, 43 percent in the Milwaukee County suburbs, 29 percent in the City of Milwaukee, and only 25 percent in the central city neighborhoods.

Wage Rates

  • The federal minimum wage was raised from $4.25 to $4.75 an hour in October 1996, and to $5.15 in September 1997. The majority of Milwaukee area employers were paying at or above $5.15 for entry level work before the federal wage changes. Wages for the remaining entry-level positions have continued to climb -- likely in response to both the minimum wage law and the tight labor market. In May 1998, only 2 percent of full-time openings and 9 percent of part-time openings paid minimum wage ($5.15 an hour). The average wage for jobs with no education or experience requirements was $7.40 for full-time openings and $6.01 for part-time work. The average pay for jobs requiring high school completion but no experience or training was $7.90 for full-time jobs and $6.57 for part-time openings.

  • In May 1998, 81 percent of full-time openings could support two persons above the poverty level, and 72 percent offered wages sufficient to support three persons above poverty and health insurance. However, only 48 percent of full-time job openings with no education or experience requirements offered health insurance and family-supporting wages for three-person families and only 20 percent supported a family of four.

3: Job Openings Paying Wages Adequate to Support a Family of

  • Two-thirds of part-time job openings with health industries (hospitals, nursing homes, doctor's offices, etc.) offered health insurance benefits, compared to only 3 percent of part-time jobs in retail and wholesale trade (eating establishments, grocery stores, department stores, warehouses, etc.).

4: Job Openings vs. Unemployed Workers

Labor Market Supply and Demand

  • Labor shortages were evident in Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties where very low unemployment levels (1.6 to 2.3 percent) showed 6,045 unemployed adults compared to 7,584 full- time and 4,668 part-time job openings. In Milwaukee County the total number of jobs available (10,905 full-time and 9,594 part-time openings) exceeded the number of officially counted unemployed job seekers (14,967 workers).

  • In the central city of Milwaukee Community Development Block Grant/Enterprise Community neighborhoods, full-time job openings (1,764) fell far short of the estimated 7,800 unemployed persons considered actively seeking work in May 1998 and the estimated 9,800 cases on "W-2."

Education and Training Requirements

  • The high demand for trained workers continues. Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of full- time openings required education, training or occupation-specific experience beyond high school. The survey showed an estimated 11,329 full-time jobs for experienced or technically trained workers, with 54 percent of these jobs identified as difficult to fill. Employers also reported that 53 percent of the 1,680 jobs for persons with four-year college degrees (or more) were difficult to fill.

Graph 5:
Requirements for Full-Time Job Openings
  • Full-time openings for four-year college graduates included jobs for engineers, computer programmers and systems analysts, accountants and auditors. The most frequently listed positions requiring certification, licensing or an associate degree included jobs for certified nursing assistants, truck drivers, secretaries, sales workers, and welders and cutters.

  • The number of entry level jobs with no education or experience requirements was up compared to last year with 4,835 full-time openings and 8,838 part-time openings in this category. Most frequently listed occupations for full-time jobs in this category included sales workers, laborers and food service workers. Most job openings for machine operators continue to be available for workers without experience. Part-time job openings for persons without a high school diploma or experience were almost entirely in food service and preparation and sales.

  • Entry level jobs for those with a high school diploma (2,336 full-time and 3,164 part-time openings) were in less demand than entry level jobs with no requirements. The occupations most frequently listed for full-time workers were in sales, bank tellers, laborers and cashiers, while part-time jobs were open for sales workers, counter clerks and cashiers.

Difficult-to-Fill Full-Time Job Openings with 100 or More Openings
Certification, License, AA Degree, or Experience Required High School Completion, No Experience RequiredNo Experience or Education Required
  • truck drivers
  • nursing aides, orderlies, attendants
  • sales reps - manufacturing/wholesale
  • secretaries
  • health aides
  • computer programmers
  • cooks
  • registered nurses
  • bus drivers
  • sales occupations, business services
  • hairdressers and cosmetologists
  • child care workers
  • ticket and reservation agents
  • real estate sales occupations
  • miscellaneous precision workers
  • sales occupations and sales workers
  • cashiers
  • receptionists
  • laborers
  • pressing machine operators
  • maids and housemen
  • freight, stock and material handlers
  • janitors and cleaners
  • machine operators

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Employment and Training Institute
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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