University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Employment and Training Institute

Brief Summary

Profile of Central City Milwaukee Labor Force Participants: Fall 1993 Household Survey

by Lois M. Quinn and Linda Hawkins, Employment and Training Institute and Social Science Research Facility, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, February 1994

Adults in 487 Milwaukee households were interviewed in late Fall of 1993 to solicit information on central city residents employed or seeking jobs, the education and training background of workers and job seekers, perceived barriers to employment, and the availability of health insurance for Milwaukee families. The survey was designed by the Employment and Training Institute for a partnership project with the City of Milwaukee Fair Housing and Employment Commission, Department of City Development, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, and the Private Industry Council of Milwaukee County. Interviews were conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Social Science Research Facility of households in the City of Milwaukee Community Development Block Grant target areas.

  • The labor force status of central city residents, rather than a fixed condition of permanent employment or unemployment, represents a highly fluid situation. About a fourth of employed men and women (ages 18-59) were working in temporary or part-time jobs.
  • The survey found a high proportion of central city adults (aged 18-59) looking for work or seeking to improve their employment status. One out of every three men and women in the labor force reported that they were looking for a job. This included unemployed men and women (45 percent of all job seekers), workers in temporary or part-time jobs (24 percent of job seekers), and workers with full-time permanent jobs (31 percent of job seekers). Desire for better pay, advancement, more hours and better working conditions were cited by employed Milwaukee residents seeking new jobs.
  • In spite of their increased employment experience, central city men did not show greater stability in employment as they moved into middle-age. The highest proportion of central city men employed in full-time permanent jobs were in their thirties, with employment rates declining for men in their forties and dropping sharply for men in their fifties and sixties. Women were most likely to be employed in full-time permanent jobs in their forties at the end of their child- bearing years.
  • Over half of unemployed men and women who were looking for work did not, or could not, identify any education or training assets to help them in looking for a job. A majority of employed job seekers cited on-the-job experience, post-secondary technical training or college education as assets.
  • To address whether transportation was a barrier to employment for central city Milwaukee residents, adults were asked whether they had a car and a valid state driver's license. Eighty percent of employed persons had a car, while only 43 percent of unemployed persons who were interested in working had a car. Additionally, only 47 percent of unemployed persons (aged 18 to 59) interested in working had a valid Wisconsin driver's license.
  • At the request of City of Milwaukee officials, all persons looking for employment or for a different job were asked whether they were interested in construction work. The interest in construction cut across racial and gender lines and was particularly strong among minority men and women. Eighty-three percent of minority male job seekers and 62 percent of minority female job seekers indicated an interest in construction jobs.
  • Health insurance is a critical employment benefit for many Milwaukee families. Employers covered half of central city households with at least some insurance. Eighty-three percent of adults and children were covered by health insurance in households where the adult surveyed worked full-time at a permanent job. Only 77 percent of household members had health insurance in homes where the respondent worked part-time or in a temporary job. Fifty- four percent of residents were covered by health insurance (including medicaid) in non-elderly households where no one was in the labor force.


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