University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Employment and Training Institute

Brief Summary

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.

Total Openings

  • 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.

Graph 1: JOB OPENINGS, MAY 1993- MAY 1997

  • 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.


Education and Training Requirements

  • 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.
Wages Rates

  • 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 in May.


  • 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.

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Employment and Training Institute
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
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