Toward Full Utilization of the Milwaukee Area Labor Force: A Planning Guide for Employers
by John Pawasarat and Lois M. Quinn, Employment and Training Institute, University
of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, September 1994
A critical challenge facing public policy makers and human resource planners is how to utilize
the full potential of the Milwaukee area workforce. The
report provides a
comprehensive description of the metropolitan labor force to assist employers in planning for
their companies and establishes benchmarks to assess employment and hiring patterns in the
Milwaukee metropolitan area. Detailed tables are provided on the labor pool of workers by
occupational titles, the employment of workers by industry, and the current utilization of women
and minorities in the Milwaukee labor force.
The most comprehensive data available for analysis of the Milwaukee area labor force
population by age, race, sex, and level of education are the series of computerized data files
available through the 1990 U.S. Census. Data sets used in this report include the Public Use
Microdata Sample (PUMS) files of the 1990 Census, the 1990 Census/EEO Special Tabulations
file, and 1991 EEO-1 reports of metropolitan Milwaukee area employers. This report,
summarizing these data files, is made available to local governments and Milwaukee area
employers for planning purposes. Highlights of the data analysis are presented below.
- The Milwaukee area labor force expanded from 697,465 workers in 1980 to 740,963
workers in 1990. Highest growth was seen in professional occupations (an increase of 21,403
workers), administrative and managerial positions (a 19,780 increase), and sales occupations (an
18,065 increase). Blue collar occupations as operators, fabricators and laborers showed the
largest declines -- with 29,459 fewer workers in these fields by 1990. Contrary to popular
perception, the Milwaukee area did not see a large increase in non-professional service workers
during the decade. Occupations as service workers increased only 2.3 percent.
- While technological innovations have created new jobs requiring advanced educational
training, a significant number of college graduates in the Milwaukee area appear underutilized,
in occupations not commensurate with their education. One out of every six female college
graduates in the Milwaukee metropolitan labor force (17.8 percent) and one out of every eight
male college graduates (13.3 percent) were in occupations not requiring a college degree.
- Analysis of EEO-1 data reported to the federal government for larger companies and
companies with federal contracts was used to assess current efforts of these employers to
incorporate women and minorities into their workforce in proportion to the overall availability
in the metropolitan labor force. Private companies with over 100 employees made up 3 percent
of all companies in the Milwaukee area, but accounted for 50 percent of all private employment
and an estimated 71 percent of minorities employed in the private sector. The EEO-1 reporting
companies showed that 15 percent of their workforce was made up of minorities, while it is
estimated that the balance of employers with less than 100 employees had an overall minority
employment rate of 6 percent.
- Many Milwaukee companies have a demonstrated track record in minority hiring.
One-third of private companies filing EEO-1 reports were hiring minorities at or above the
overall availability rate of 14.34 percent. At the same time, for one-third of reporting
companies minorities made up fewer than 5 percent of their workforce.
- Companies located in Milwaukee County were more likely to hire at availability
levels for minorities than companies located in the outlying areas of the metropolitan area.
Forty-three percent of companies in Milwaukee County reported minority employment at or
above availability level, compared to 11 percent of companies located in Waukesha, Ozaukee
and Washington Counties.
- Companies reporting EEO-1 data in the metropolitan area showed 43 percent
employing women at or above the standard for officials and managers while 17 percent of
companies employed women at less than 1 percent as officials and managers. Women were
most successful in professional services and finance sectors where over 80 percent of companies
employed women at or above the standard.
- Lack of transportation to jobs appears to represent a serious barrier to employment
for many city residents, particularly in the central city. Less than half (44 percent) of
unemployed workers from Milwaukee's central city (primary CDBG) area had a car in their
household. On the City's northwest and east sides and the southside, one out of five
unemployed persons did not have a car in their household. Lack of adequate transportation
limits these job seekers' access to employment, particularly for jobs in Waukesha, Ozaukee and
- Employed persons in Milwaukee's central city showed a strong dependence upon
public transportation and carpooling. Only 70 percent of employed workers in Milwaukee's
central city had a car in their household, while over 90 percent of employed workers from all
other geographical areas of the SMSA had one or more cars in their household.
- Young high school graduates in the Milwaukee SMSA were much more likely to be
employed if they were white. Among all high school graduates, aged 18-30 and not enrolled
in post-secondary education, young white men showed employment rates (full- and part-time)
of 91 percent and white women 80 percent employment, compared to rates of only 63 percent
for young black male graduates and 47 percent for young black female high school completers.
Among high school dropouts aged 18-30, black men showed employment rates less than half
those for white male dropouts -- 34 percent and 78 percent respectively.
- Workers lacking a high school education were particularly vulnerable in Milwaukee's
changing economy. Over half of all workers lacking a high school diploma were concentrated
in five of 69 occupational clusters: food preparation and service; machine operators; retail and
personal sales; cleaning and building services; and fabricator, assembler and handworking
occupations. One out of every eight high school dropouts in the Milwaukee labor force was in
food preparation and service occupations, compared to one out of every 28 workers with a high
school degree or better.
- Employment patterns for minorities were examined by each of twelve industrial
sectors and by level of workers' educational attainment to assess minority employment for
Milwaukee area industrial sectors. In Milwaukee County, the construction and wholesale trade
sectors were below the availability standard of minorities at all educational levels. Public
administration and the transportation, communications and utilities sectors in Milwaukee County
hired minorities with four year college degrees or more at twice the overall availability for the
metropolitan area. In Waukesha County minorities were least likely to be employed in
agriculture, construction, and the professional services sector. In Ozaukee/Washington counties,
minorities showed low employment in all industrial sectors with 0 percent in public
administration, and the finance, insurance and real estate sector.