University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Employment and Training Institute

Brief Summary

Survey of Job Openings in the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area: Week of May 17, 1999

by John Pawasarat and Lois M. Quinn, Employment and Training Institute, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1999


The week of May 17, 1999, an estimated 36,653 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 781,131 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, the Helen Bader Foundation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Total Openings

  • In May employers were seeking workers for an estimated 22,152 full-time and 14,501 part-time openings. The largest numbers of full-time openings were concentrated in service industries (30 percent of total openings), retail and wholesale trade (25 percent), and manufacturing (15 percent).

  • Employers reported 15,217 job openings in Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington (WOW) counties, accounting for 41 percent of full-time and 42 percent of part-time openings in the metropolitan area.

  • Employers in the suburbs and WOW counties continued to find it more difficult to fill full-time and part-time openings than in the City of Milwaukee. For full-time job openings, 59 percent were identified as difficult to fill in the WOW counties, 67 percent in the Milwaukee County suburbs, 52 percent in the City of Milwaukee, and 46 percent in the central city neighborhoods. For part-time job openings, 52 percent were considered difficult to fill in the WOW counties, 60 percent in the Milwaukee County suburbs, 44 percent in the City of Milwaukee, but only 29 percent in the central city zipcode areas identified as part of the City's Community Development Block Grant/Enterprise Community 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 remaining entry-level positions have continued to climb in response to the tight labor market. In May 1999, less than 1 percent of full-time openings and 4 percent of part-time openings paid minimum wage ($5.15 an hour). The average wage for entry-level jobs with no experience or training requirements was $7.62 for full-time openings and $6.75 for part-time work.

  • In May 1999, 82 percent of full-time openings could support two persons above the poverty level, and 74 percent offered wages sufficient to support three persons above poverty and offered health insurance. However, only 46 percent of full-time job openings with no education or experience requirements offered health insurance and family-supporting wages for three-person families.

  • Two-thirds of part-time job openings in the health industries (hospitals, nursing homes, doctor's offices, etc.) and 45 percent of jobs in the finance, insurance and real estate sector offered health insurance benefits. By contrast, 22 percent of part-time jobs in service sectors (other than health and education) offered health insurance.

Labor Market Supply and Demand

  • Labor shortages were evident in Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties where very low unemployment levels (2.1 to 2.2 percent) showed 6,951 unemployed adults compared to 9,119 full-time and 6,098 part-time job openings. In Milwaukee County the total number of jobs available (11,209 full-time and 7,295 part-time openings) fell short of the number of officially counted unemployed job seekers (20,048 workers).

  • In the central city neighborhoods, job openings (1,894 full-time and 1,145 part-time) fell far short of the estimated 10,200 unemployed persons considered actively seeking work in May 1999 and 4,900 cases receiving "W-2" welfare payments.

Education and Training Requirements

  • The high demand for trained workers continues. Sixty-two percent of full-time openings required education, training or occupation-specific experience beyond high school. The survey showed an estimated 10,492 full-time jobs for experienced or technically trained workers, with 65 percent of these jobs identified as difficult to fill. Employers also reported that 63 percent of the 2,022 jobs for persons with four-year college degrees (or more) were difficult to fill.

  • Twenty-eight percent of full-time openings and 53 percent of part-time openings were entry level jobs with no education or experience requirements. Another 10 percent of full-time openings and 13 percent of part-time openings required high school completion but no experience or training.

  • Most entry level full-time and part-time job openings were located in the outlying counties and the Milwaukee County suburbs. In May 1999, 81 percent of full-time openings for food preparation and food service workers were located in suburban/exurban areas outside the City of Milwaukee. Similarly, 72 percent of full-time openings for laborers were in the suburbs/exurbs, as were 68 percent of openings for stock handlers, helpers and cleaners.

  • Many better paying jobs requiring technical training or occupation-specific experience were located at suburban/exurban worksites. Nearly all (91 percent) of the 876 full-time openings for precision production occupations and two-thirds (69 percent) of the 1,087 openings in the construction trades were located at worksites outside the City of Milwaukee.

  • An estimated 1,470 full-time and 981 part-time jobs required possession of a valid driver's or chauffeur's license. These included work for truck drivers (delivery, concrete, long- haul), driver-sales workers, bus drivers, groundskeepers and some construction workers.

  • Individual jobs in highest demand included openings for an estimated 1,762 cashiers (74 percent part-time); 1,759 nursing aides, orderlies and attendants (58 percent part-time); 1,515 food preparation workers (72 percent were part-time); 1,121 truck drivers (24 percent part-time); and 1,000 registered nurses (50 percent part-time).

The tables below identify jobs in highest demand by level of education or training required.

FULL-TIME POSITIONS WITH 100 OR MORE OPENINGS
(Jobs in bold showed at least 100 openings identified by employers as difficult to fill)
Four-Year College Degree or More

  • insurance sales staff
  • social workers
  • computer systems analysts and programmers
  • engineers
  • management related staff
  • teachers
Certification, License, AA Degree, or Experience Required

  • truck drivers
  • nursing aides, orderlies and attendants
  • secretaries
  • sales workers
  • registered nurses
  • carpenters
  • health technologists and technicians
  • mechanics and repairers
  • insurance sales staff
  • bus drivers
  • brickmasons and stonemasons
  • groundskeepers and gardeners
  • numerical control machine operators
  • supervisors, agricultural/groundskeeping
  • supervisors, food service and preparation
  • receptionists
  • child care workers
  • driver-sales workers
  • billing clerks
  • food counter, fountain and related occupations
  • technicians, other
  • laborers, construction
  • cooks
  • machinists
  • electrical power installers and repairers
  • hairdressers and cosmetologists
  • bookkeepers, accounting and auditing clerks
  • bus, truck and stationary engine mechanics
  • accountants and auditors
  • radiologic and nuclear medicine technologists
High School Completion, No Experience Required

  • sales workers
  • nursing aides, orderlies and attendants
  • billing clerks
  • laborers, construction
  • laborers, non-construction
  • supervisors, sales staff
  • supervisors, cleaning and building service workers
No Experience or Education Required

  • laborers, retail and wholesale trade
  • cashiers
  • food preparation staff
  • assemblers
  • food counter, fountain and related occupations
  • sales workers
  • cooks
  • sales counter clerks
  • freight, stock and material handlers
  • janitors and cleaners
  • laborers, durable manufacturing
  • insurance sales staff
  • waiters'/waitresses' assistants
  • general office clerks
  • waiters and waitresses
  • receptionists
  • maids and housemen

PART-TIME POSITIONS WITH 100 OR MORE OPENINGS
(Jobs in bold showed at least 100 openings identified by employers as difficult to fill)
Four-Year College Degree or More

  • speech therapists
Certification, License, AA Degree, or Experience Required

  • nursing aides, orderlies and attendants
  • bus drivers
  • registered nurses
  • truck drivers
  • food counter, fountain and related occupations
  • sales workers
  • general office clerks
  • secretaries
High School Completion, No Experience Required

  • cashiers
  • nursing aides, orderlies and attendants
  • food preparation workers
  • stock handlers and baggers
  • teachers' aides
  • food counter, fountain and related occupations
  • sales staff, telemarketing
  • general office clerks
No Experience or Education Required

  • cashiers
  • food preparation staff
  • food counter, fountain and related occupations
  • sales workers
  • stock handlers and baggers
  • freight, stock and material handlers
  • janitors and cleaners
  • waiters'/waitresses' assistants
  • sales counter clerks
  • waiters and waitresses
  • cooks
  • stock and inventory clerks
  • laborers, retail and wholesale trade
  • announcers
  • laborers, durable manufacturing
  • roofers
  • kitchen workers, food preparation
  • bartenders


Background on the Milwaukee Labor Market Project

To address the need for information on the local labor market and to improve planning for employment of Milwaukee area residents, since 1993 the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee Public Schools, Private Industry Council of Milwaukee County (now Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board), and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute have joined together in a partnership to survey business in the metropolitan area and to assess skill needs of local companies. The project was initially supported by the government partners, the Helen Bader Foundation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Milwaukee was the first major city in the country regularly studying job openings in order to assess the number and type of jobs available, pay rates, job locations and the level of skill training employers need to fill full-time and part-time openings. Summaries of job openings reports for prior years are available.

In 1998 the U.S. Congress adopted the Milwaukee Labor Market Project's job openings survey design as a national model. The U.S. Department of Labor contracted with the Employment and Training Institute to prepare a manual on how to conduct labor market studies and has recommended the Milwaukee approach for other cities and labor markets. The survey, now encompassing seven counties, is supported by the Regional Workforce Alliance.


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