University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Employment and Training Institute

Brief Summary

Survey of Job Openings in the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area: Week of October 21, 1996

The week of October 21, 1996, an estimated 29,065 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, se asonal fluctuations, and normal turnover among the 768,900 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 October employers were seeking an estimated 17,233 full-time workers and 11,832 part-time employees. Employers reported 2,039 fewer full-time job openings than one year ago and 1,425 fewer part-time openings. The heavy demand for manufacturing w orkers continues to slow, while more full-time openings were reported in the finance, insurance and real estate industry and construction, compared to last year.

    Graph 1: Full-Time and Part-Time Job Openings

  • The largest numbers of full-time openings were concentrated in service industries (32 percent of total openings), retail and wholesale trade (26 percent) and manufacturing (17 percent). Most part-time job openings were in service industries (46 perc ent 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.

    Graph 2: Job Openings by Type of Industry

  • The three outlying counties of Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington (WOW) showed about 400 more full-time job openings in October 1996 than in October 1995, while job openings in Milwaukee County were 2,472 lower than a year ago. Forty-nine percent of f ull-time openings and 38 percent of part-time openings were in the WOW counties.

    Graph 3: Work Sites for Full-time Job Openings

Education and Training Requirements
  • The percentage of full-time openings which required education, training or occupation- specific experience beyond high school increased from 60 percent in May 1996 to 70 percent in October 1996. The survey showed an estimated 9,428 full-time jobs for experienced or technically trained workers, with 5,272 (56 percent) of these jobs identified as difficult to fill. Nearly 1,500 jobs for persons with four-year college degrees (or more) were also reported as difficult to fill.

    Graph 4: Requirements for Full-time Job Openings

  • Full-time openings were noted for four-year college graduates as computer programmers, systems analysts, management analysts, engineers, teachers and registered nurses. The most frequently listed positions requiring an associate degree were for hair dressers and cosmetologists, computer programmers, welfare service aides, and accountants. Jobs in demand requiring certification or licensing included certified nursing assistants, registered nurses, truck drivers, health technicians, auto mechanics, el ectricians 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 October employers reported 4,979 full-time openings in this category, compared to 6,461 openings last year.
Wage Rates
  • Even before the federal minimum wage increase took effect on October 1, 1996, the majority of 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 fo r only 7 percent of their full-time job openings. In October, under the new minimum wage requirement, less than 4 percent of full-time openings paid less than $5.00 an hour. The percentage of part-time jobs paying below $5.00 an hour dropped from 23 per cent of openings in May to 13 percent of part- time openings in October.

  • The greatest impact of the minimum wage increase was seen on food preparation and food service jobs. Nearly all jobs paying less than $5.00 an hour were concentrated in the retail food sector in May 1996. Average wages for full-time openings for fo od counter, fountain and related occupations rose from $4.88 an hour in May to $5.64 in October. Likewise, average wages offered for part-time jobs jumped from $5.04 in May to $5.62 in October.

  • Nearly all (97 percent) jobs requiring four years or more of college and two-thirds (69 percent) of jobs requiring technical training, certification or occupation-specific experience offered wages sufficient to support a family above the poverty leve l and health insurance. Thirty-nine percent of job openings requiring high school completion but no experience and 19 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).

Graph 5: Percent of Job Openings Paying Family Wages and Health Insurance

Labor Market Supply and Demand

  • Labor shortages are evident in Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties where about 7,200 adults were listed as unemployed or expected to work under AFDC requirements, compared to 8,485 full-time and 4,517 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 approximately 38,400 adults are listed as unemployed or expected to work while emp loyers reported an estimated 8,415 full-time job openings and 7,047 part-time openings in October.

Graph 6: Job Openings vs.Unemployed Workers

Difficult-to-Fill Full-Time Job Openings with 100 or More Openings

Four-Year College Degree or More
  • management analysts
  • computer programmers
  • teachers
  • engineers
Certification, License, AA Degree, or Experience Required
  • hairdressers/cosmetologists
  • truck drivers
  • technicians
  • sales workers, retail
  • nursing aides and orderlies
  • garage and service station workers
  • computer analysts
  • health technicians
  • punching and stamping press machine operators
  • welders and cutters
  • optical goods workers
  • machinists
  • helpers, mechanics and repairers
  • computer programmers
High School Completion, No Experience Required
  • structural metal workers
  • cashiers
No Experience or Education Required
  • assemblers
  • waiters and waitresses
  • cooks
  • laborers
  • taxicab drivers and chauffeurs
  • janitors and cleaners


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Employment and Training Institute
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
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