Survey of Job Openings in the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area: Week of October 14, 1994
The week of October 24, 1994, an estimated 33,379 full and part-time jobs were open for
immediate hire in the four-county Milwaukee metropolitan area. These job openings are the
result of company expansions, labor shortages in difficult to fill positions, seasonal fluctuations,
as well as normal turnover among the 739,300 employed workers in the metro area due to
retirements, resignations and firings. 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 Study Project with local governments.
- In October 1994 employers were seeking an estimated 19,594 full-time workers and
13,785 part-time employees. The number of full-time job openings was 7,895 higher than in
October 1993. Full-time openings were notably higher in manufacturing (3,672 more openings),
retail and wholesale trade (2,760 more openings), and services (761 more openings).
- In contrast to earlier surveys, Milwaukee County employers are now identifying the
majority (61 percent) of their full-time job openings as difficult to fill. In Waukesha, Ozaukee
and Washington counties, 77 percent of full-time jobs paying less than $6.00 per hour were
identified as difficult to fill; in Milwaukee County 69 percent of these lower paying jobs were
considered difficult to fill. For full-time positions with no education or experience requirements,
area employers identified 39 percent of openings as difficult to fill in May 1993, but 68 percent
as difficult to fill in October 1994. Similarly, employers rated 27 percent of jobs available to
high school graduates with no experience as difficult to fill in May 1993, compared to 73
percent of jobs in this category in October 1994.
- The majority of full-time openings were for persons with post-secondary technical
training, certification, licensing or occupation-specific experience. The survey showed an
estimated 10,804 jobs for experienced or trained workers, with 6,451 of these jobs identified as
difficult to fill.
- Many of the jobs available in the metropolitan area continue to be low-paying, although
the tight labor market and increasing availability of manufacturing jobs is moving wages up from
the lowest categories. Half of the expanded job growth was in positions paying $6.00 to 8.99
per hour, while jobs paying less than $6.00 per hour accounted for 29 percent of the increase.
Positions offering $12.00 or more per hour ($24,000 or more annually) made up only 14 percent
of full-time job openings and less than 10 percent of expansions compared to October 1993.
While manufacturing job openings showed a wide range of wages offered, openings for machine
operators and inspectors were clustered at $7.00-7.99 per hour, laborers at $6.00-6.99, and
assemblers at $5.00-5.99. Increases in pay rates were not observed across-the-board for
industries. For example, food preparation and service jobs not dependent upon tips were most
common at the $6.00-6.99 range, compared to the $5.00-5.99 range a year ago. By contrast,
cleaning jobs were more likely to pay minimum wage in October 1994 than one year ago.
- Entry-level jobs requiring no experience were the least likely to offer health insurance
and wages sufficient to support a family above the poverty level ($14,800 a year). Only 5
percent of entry level full-time jobs requiring no experience offered wages and fringe benefits
to support a family of four above the poverty level. Jobs requiring high school completion but
no occupation-specific experience offered family-supporting wages and health insurance for one-
fourth of openings.
- In October 1994, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 30,800 persons were
unemployed and looking for work, while the survey of employers showed only 19,594 full-time
job openings in October. When adults receiving AFDC and food stamps are considered for the
labor pool along with unemployed workers, full-time job openings available the week of October
24, 1994, represented about one-third (36 percent) of the jobs required for the 52,800 to 54,800
persons seeking or expected to work. If part-time as well as full-time job openings are
considered, the 33,379 job openings are still about 20,000 short of jobs needed for the
Milwaukee metro population expected to work.