Hiring outlook in Madison, Milwaukee among strongest nationally

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The hiring outlook in both Madison and Milwaukee ranks in the top five nationally in the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey.

Madison’s net employment outlook heading into the third quarter is 34% while Milwaukee is at 33%. Only Charlotte and Grand Rapids had better outlooks for the third quarter at 37% and 36% respectively.

The outlook is determined by subtracting the percentage of employers expecting to cut staff in the quarter from the percentage who expect to grow their staff level.

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In metro Milwaukee, which includes Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties, 35% of employers said they would grow their staff and 2% predicted a decline in employment. The majority, 63%, expect to keep staffing levels the same.

Milwaukee’s outlook is an improvement from 16% in the second quarter and is at the same level as the third quarter last year.

But a strong hiring outlook heading into the third quarter did not translate to strong job growth in 2018. Seasonally adjusted nonfarm payrolls in the metro area increased by just 900 from July to September last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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The region averaged 0.8% year-over-year job growth during last year’s third quarter, according to the bureau’s more detailed Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

A lack of available workers has hampered job growth. In the third quarter of 2018, the region’s unemployment rate averaged 3.3%.

Despite the low unemployment rate, average weekly wages were up just 2.8% in the third quarter of 2018 and 3.3% for the year. Nationally, wages were up 3.2% in last year’s third quarter and 3.4% for the year.

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The metro area’s employment situation has continued to improve in 2019, potentially making it even harder for employers to increase staffing levels. Through April, the area’s unemployment rate has been almost a quarter of a percentage point lower than it was at the same time in 2018 and the number of people considered unemployed is down by nearly 2,000 on average.

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