University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Employment and Training Institute

Brief Summary

Survey of Job Openings in the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area: Week of October 19, 1998

The week of October 19, 1998, an estimated 36,991 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 794,034 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 October employers were seeking an estimated 21,515 full-time workers and 15,476 part-time employees. The largest numbers of full-time openings were concentrated in service industries (33 percent of total openings), retail and wholesale trade (24 percent), and manufacturing (19 percent).

  • Employers reported 15,688 job openings in Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington (WOW) counties, accounting for 45 percent of full-time and 39 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, 62 percent were identified as difficult to fill in the WOW counties, 56 percent in the Milwaukee County suburbs, 45 percent in the City of Milwaukee, and 46 percent in the central city neighborhoods. For part-time job openings, 51 percent were considered difficult to fill in the WOW counties, 37 percent in the Milwaukee County suburbs, 33 percent in the City of Milwaukee, and only 22 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 remaining entry-level positions have continued to climb -- likely in response to both the minimum wage law and the tight labor market. In October 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 $7.28 for full-time openings and $6.27 for part-time work. The average pay for jobs requiring high school completion but no experience or training was $8.07 for full-time jobs and $7.56 for part- time openings.

  • In October 1998, 89 percent of full-time openings could support two persons above the poverty level, and 80 percent offered wages sufficient to support three persons above poverty and health insurance. However, only 44 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 would support four persons.

  • Two-thirds of part-time job openings in the finance, insurance and real estate sector, and 51 percent of jobs in health industries (hospitals, nursing homes, doctor's offices, etc.) offered health insurance benefits, compared to 19 percent of part-time jobs in the service sector.

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 7,054 unemployed adults compared to 9,721 full- time and 5,967 part-time job openings. In Milwaukee County the total number of jobs available (10,679 full-time and 8,808 part-time openings) exceeded the number of officially counted unemployed job seekers (19,243 workers).

  • In the central city of Milwaukee Community Development Block Grant/Enterprise Community neighborhoods, job openings (2,334 full-time and 2,908 part-time) fell far short of the estimated 9,800 unemployed persons considered actively seeking work in October 1998 and 6,075 cases on "W- 2."

Education and Training Requirements

  • The high demand for trained workers continues. Over two-thirds (69 percent) of full-time openings required education, training or occupation-specific experience beyond high school. The survey showed an estimated 12,267 full-time jobs for experienced or technically trained workers, with 59 percent of these jobs identified as difficult to fill. Employers also reported that 62 percent of the 2,550 jobs for persons with four-year college degrees (or more) were difficult to fill.

  • Full-time openings for four-year college graduates included jobs for computer programmers and systems analysts, accountants, auditors and engineers. The most frequently listed positions requiring certification, licensing or an associate degree included jobs for sales workers, nursing assistants, bill and account collectors, secretaries and hairdressers.

  • The number of entry level jobs with no education or experience requirements included 4,528 full- time openings and 6,561 part-time openings. Most frequently listed occupations for full-time jobs in this category included sales workers, janitors and cleaners, machine operators, food service workers and laborers. Part-time job openings for persons without a high school diploma or experience included sales workers, cashiers, and waiters and waitresses.

  • Entry level jobs for those with a high school diploma (2,256 full-time and 1,866 part-time openings) were in less demand than entry level jobs with no requirements. The occupations most frequently listed for full-time workers were for sales workers, health aides, cashiers and bank tellers, while part-time jobs were open for cashiers, sales workers, information clerks, bank tellers and child care workers.

Difficult-to-Fill Full-Time Job Openings with 100 or More Openings
Four-Year College Degree or More

  • computer systems analysts and scientist
Certification, License, AA Degree, or Experience Required

  • nursing aides, orderlies, attendants
  • sales workers
  • hairdressers and cosmetologists
  • technicians
  • machinists
  • secretaries
  • sales occupations, business services
  • insurance sales occupations
  • registered nurses
  • sales reps, manufacturing/wholesale trade
  • child care workers
  • precision workers
  • laborers, non-construction
  • cabinet makers/bench carpenters
  • personal services occupations
  • supervisors, food prep/service occupations
  • computer programmers
  • truck drivers
  • electrical/electronic equipment repairers
High School Completion, No Experience Required

  • cashiers
  • sales occupations, business services
  • health aides
No Experience or Education Required

  • sales workers
  • machine operators
  • waiters and waitresses
  • bank tellers
  • production helpers
  • laborers

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Employment and Training Institute
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
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