University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Employment and Training Institute


Purchasing Power Profiles of City of Milwaukee ZIP Codes and Suburban Areas

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute developed comparison data on estimated resident expenditures for 16 categories of common consumer items for 53 residential ZIP codes in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, at the request of the Milwaukee Department of City Development. The profiles are designed to help businesses, developers, and organizations assess the advantages of urban density for underserved city neighborhoods and to spur economic development in central city Milwaukee. The City of Milwaukee website has contact information available for companies interested in expanding or locating a business in Milwaukee.

Purchasing power, business activity, and workforce density reports are now available from the Employment and Training Institute for all U.S. ZIP codes. Consumer expenditure data may also be requested for any combination of census tracts (by county) at the ETI Purchasing Power and Workforce Density Data Page.

Individual reports, including comparison tables, graphs, aerial photos, and density maps, are available in PDF format for the following City of Milwaukee zipcodes:

Note: Milwaukee ZIP Code 53203 is not profiled, due to the small number of residents.

Shorter reports with comparison tables are available for other ZIP codes in Milwaukee County.

In addition to comparisons among Milwaukee County ZIP code areas, the reports above also include expenditure estimates for the following ZIP codes in the metro Milwaukee area. Individual reports were not prepared for these areas.

  • Brookfield 53005
  • Cedarburg 53012
  • Germantown 53022
  • Grafton 53204
  • Brookfield 53045
  • Menomonee Falls 53051
  • Pewaukee 53072
  • Thiensville, Mequon 53092
  • Mequon 53097
  • Elm Grove 53122
  • Kenosha 53140
  • Kenosha 53143
  • Kenosha 53144
  • New Berlin 53146
  • New Berlin 53151
  • Pleasant Prairie 53158
  • Waukesha 53186
  • Waukesha 53187
  • Racine 53404


The ETI purchasing power expenditure estimates are based on detailed analyses of consumer expenditures by the U.S. Census Bureau Consumer Expenditure Surveys. Retail purchasing data are taken from the most recently released (December 2003) Consumer Expenditure Survey for the four quarters of the year 2002. Sixteen categories of expenditures are analyzed: food at home; food away from home; apparel and related services; television equipment, tapes and discs; audio equipment, CDs, and tapes; household textiles; furniture; floor coverings; major appliances; small appliances and housewares; computer hardware and software; miscellaneous household equipment; non-prescription drugs and supplies; housekeeping supplies; personal products; and home repair commodities.

Most expenditure data are calculated from the larger CEX interview file, which contains more than 30,000 records with complete income and expenditure responses for the year. The three categories of expenditures not in the interview file (non-prescription drugs, housekeeping and cleaning supplies, and personal care products) are drawn from two years (2001 and 2002) of the CEX diary file, which includes more than 22,000 respondents with complete income and expenditure data.

Expenditure patterns are then combined by income levels and family/household types with Wisconsin Department of Revenue 2002 income tax filing data, controlling for a similar matrix of income levels and family/household types. State income tax data for non-dependent, non-elderly filers are obtained by geographic level to construct final estimates. Data on elderly households are drawn from the 2000 U.S. Census. Listings of expenditures included in the 16 categories analyzed are detailed in the methodology section of each report.

The Milwaukee purchasing power profiles differ from those available on the Employment and Training Institute website for all ZIP codes in the U.S. in two ways. First, the Milwaukee profiles are based on actual ZIP code boundaries, rather than Census Bureau ZCTA (ZIP Code Tabulation Area) boundaries (aggregations of census blocks only approximating ZIP code areas). Second, the Milwaukee profiles use neighborhood population/income data derived primarily from the most recent State of Wisconsin income tax filing data (tax forms filed in 2003 for 2002 tax purposes), reflecting recent economic changes by neighborhood rather than 2000 U.S. Census survey data on income.

Background Reading

Discussions of the Milwaukee Purchasing Powering Profile (PPP) work and additional examples of profile reports are available. See

  • Confronting Anti-Urban Marketing Stereotypes: A Milwaukee Economic Development Challenge by Lois M. Quinn and John Pawasarat, 2001. This report contrasts the marketing firm cluster stereotypes of Milwaukee neighborhoods with factual data-based analysis of business and economic activity. It also includes a history of cluster marketing and discusses racial steering inherent in many of the segmentation models.

  • Purchasing Power of Milwaukee Commercial Districts by John Pawasarat and Lois M. Quinn, 2001. This paper describes how city strengths (including dense population, the high concentration of workers, and consequent high concentration of earned income) translate into higher purchasing power per square mile for retail necessities, including food at home, apparel and home furnishings.

  • Exposing Urban Legends: The Real Purchasing Power of Central City Neighborhoods, a discussion paper prepared for The Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, describes local, state and federal databases cities can use to create their own analysis of city neighborhoods and to challenge data inaccuracies in the computer-driven reports of their neighborhoods by international marketing firms.

  • A PowerPoint presentation outlines purchasing power and economic trends within a three-mile radius of Cesar E. Chavez Drive and W. National Avenue, a commercial district on Milwaukee's near southside.

  • The City of Milwaukee Department of City Development website provides the purchasing power profiles for all 34 residential ZIP codes in Milwaukee County. The site also has contact information for companies interested in expanding or locating a business in Milwaukee. These "drill down" reports challenge marketing firms' emphasis on median household income rather than retail spending per square mile.

For more information, contact the Employment and Training Institute at email

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Page updated 2009
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