Manufacturing growth misses Milwaukee County

Monthly employment, wages, down from 2011

manufacturing activity

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:11 am

While Wisconsin added more than 32,500 manufacturing jobs in the last five years, the growth has not been evenly distributed in the southeastern portion of the state, according to Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages data.

manufacturing activity

Average monthly employment in the industry fell in Milwaukee County between 2011 and 2015, even as the surrounding counties gained jobs and saw wages rise at a faster rate. Milwaukee County average monthly employment was 52,404 in 2015, down 1.5 percent from 2011.

Kenosha, Racine, Walworth, Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee and Sheboygan counties all saw increases in employment during that period.

Sheboygan County had the largest gain in monthly average, up 2,042 jobs to 20,530. Kenosha County’s gain of 884 was the biggest percentage up at 13.5 percent. Waukesha County added 1,234, Ozaukee was up 1,088, Racine added 886, and Walworth was up 673.

Milwaukee County did have the most manufacturing jobs, followed by Waukesha, which averaged 43,832, as the rankings were the same as 2011. Sheboygan County (20,530), Racine (18,497), Washington (14,255), Ozaukee (9,638), Walworth (8,817), and Kenosha (7,444) rounded out the rankings.

As a share of all employment, manufacturing remained the second largest industry in Milwaukee County, but it decreased from 11.6 percent to 10.9 percent of employment. The figure was the lowest of any of the eight counties. Sheboygan County topped the list at 34.8 percent. Washington (26.6 percent), Ozaukee (23.2), Racine (25.1), Walworth (22), and Kenosha (12.6) all saw gains in manufacturing’s share of employment. Waukesha County was down from 19.1 percent to 18.6 percent.

While average annual wages for manufacturing jobs in Milwaukee County remained the second highest in the region, the $2,161 increase to $66,724 was the smallest percentage gain of any county. Accounting for inflation, the average wage actually decreased 1.9 percent in the county. Racine, Walworth and Ozaukee counties also had decreases when adjusting for inflation.

At $55,812, Washington County had the largest jump in average wages at 6.1 percent after inflation. Sheboygan County was up 4.3 percent to $55,361. Kenosha was up 3.3 percent to $54,243. Waukesha was up 2.7 percent to $63,367.

Across all eight counties, manufacturing wages were an average of $13,977 higher than wages covering all industries, down slightly from 2011.

The wage premium for manufacturing jobs was up 11.4 percent in Washington County to $12,650. Kenosha County’s premium was up 2 percent and Sheboygan was flat, but the other counties were down, including 5.6 percent drops in Milwaukee and Ozaukee and 4.2 percent in Waukesha.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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