Survey of Job Openings in the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area: Week of May 19, 1997
The week of May 19, 1997, an estimated 28,852 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 771,100 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 Social Science Research Facility, 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.
Education and Training Requirements
- In May 1997 employers were seeking an estimated 17,582 full-time workers and 11,270
part-time employees. Employers reported 1,105 fewer full-time job openings than one year ago
but 700 more part-time openings.
- The largest numbers of full-time openings were concentrated in service industries (32
percent of total openings), retail and wholesale trade (21 percent) and manufacturing (19
percent). Most part-time job openings were in service industries (45 percent of the total) and
retail and wholesale trade (43 percent). Retail and wholesale trade firms continue to show more
part-time than full-time job openings.
- The three outlying counties of Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington (WOW) showed
continued demand for both full-time and part-time job openings in May 1997 compared to a year
ago. In Milwaukee County full-time job openings were 861 lower and part-time openings 482
higher than a year ago. Forty-three percent of full-time openings and 32 percent of part-time
openings were in the WOW counties.
- Employers find it increasingly difficult to find trained workers. The percentage of full-
time openings which required education, training or occupation-specific experience beyond high
school continues to increase from 60 percent in May 1996 to 70 percent in October 1996 to 74
percent in May 1997. The survey showed an estimated 10,624 full-time jobs for experienced
or technically trained workers, with 60 percent of these jobs identified as difficult to fill.
Employers also reported that nearly 71 percent of the 2,333 jobs for persons with four-year
college degrees (or more) were difficult to fill.
- Full-time openings for four-year college graduates included insurance sales, engineers,
accountants and auditors, teachers, computer programmers, systems analysts and management
analysts. Frequently listed positions requiring an associate degree, certification or licensing
included hairdressers/cosmetologists, secretaries, certified nursing assistants, registered nurses,
health technicians, truck drivers, auto mechanics, electricians and welders.
- The number of entry level jobs for workers with high school or less and lacking
occupation-specific experience is down from last year. In May employers reported 4,439 full-
time openings in this category, compared to 7,125 openings last year.
- The October 1, 1996, increase in the federal minimum wage from $4.25 to $4.75 could
be seen primarily in the part-time retail sales and service sectors. Prior to the minimum wage
hike, most Milwaukee area employers were paying above $5.00 an hour for entry level full-time
work. In May 1996 employers reported offering less than $5.00 an hour for only 7 percent of
their full-time job openings (excluding jobs with tips or commissions). In October, under the
new minimum wage requirement, less than 4 percent of full-time openings paid less than $5.00
an hour and in May 1997, 3 percent paid below $5.00 per hour for full-time openings. The
percentage of part-time jobs paying below $5.00 an hour dropped from 23 percent a year ago
to 13 percent of part-time openings in October and 11 percent in May 1997.
Nearly all (97 percent) jobs requiring four years or more of college and two-thirds (65 percent)
of jobs requiring technical training, certification or occupation-specific experience offered wages
sufficient to support a family of four above the poverty level and health insurance. Thirty-one
percent of job openings requiring high school completion but no experience and 18 percent of
jobs with no education or experience requirement offered health insurance and wages considered
sufficient to support a family of four above poverty ($15,600 a year).
Labor Market Supply and Demand
- Labor shortages are evident in Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties where very
low unemployment levels (1.9 to 2.5 percent) showed 8,250 adults as unemployed or expected
to work under AFDC requirements, compared to 7,573 full-time and 3,616 part-time job
openings. At the same time, the number of jobs available in Milwaukee County, and
particularly in the central city targeted Enterprise Community, were far fewer than those needed.
In Milwaukee County an estimated 36,155 adults are listed as unemployed or expected to work
while employers reported an estimated 9,655 full-time job openings and 7,440 part-time openings
- Difficult-to-fill jobs with more than 100 full-time openings for workers with a four-year
college degree or more included: insurance sales, accountants and auditors, engineers, securities
and financial services sales, and designers.
- Difficult-to-fill jobs with more than 100 full-time openings requiring certification,
licenses, associate degrees or occupation-specific experience included:
hairdressers/cosmetologists, nursing aides and orderlies, truck drivers, secretaries, garage and
service station occupations, machinists, machine operators, construction laborers, real estate
sales occupations, waiters and waitresses, computer operators and programmers, health aides,
welders and cutters.
- Employers reported entry level full-time job openings as difficult-to-fill for retail and
sales support occupations, retail sales workers, counter clerks and laborers.