Wisconsin wage growth ranks near bottom of country since August

The average hourly wage paid to private sector workers in Wisconsin has increased an average of 3.9% over the past three months, a pace that ranks in the bottom 15 of all states.

Compared to the prior year, Wisconsin saw an increase in hourly wages of 3.4%, 4.5% and 3.8% in August, September and October, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wisconsin’s average wage growth across those three months ranks 37th in the country.

The average hourly wage in October was $28.80, up 97 cents from the same time in 2020. The 3.9% average increase is the best three-month stretch for the state since the summer of 2020, but it is also eclipsed by a most of 2018 and a period in early 2013.

Wisconsin’s wage growth also lags nearby states. Illinois has seen an average increase of 6.1% and the average hourly wage is now $31.96. Indiana’s average wage is now $27.72 and is up 5.7% on average over the past three months. Similarly, Iowa’s average wage has increased 5.5% on average and is now at $27.13. Michigan is at $29.15 and has averaged a 5.4% increase. Minnesota is up 4.5% and is now at $33.43.

Kentucky and Texas have seen the strongest wage growth over the past three months, averaging 8.1% and 7.7% increases respectively.

Wisconsin’s wage picture shows more growth from a weekly perspective, which accounts for the numbers of hours worked. On that metric, the state has averaged a 4.8% increase over the past three months, good enough for 26th in the country.

Many employers have lamented the difficulty in finding employees and Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has fallen to 3.2% as of October. The state also saw 95,000 people quit their jobs in August and 90,000 quit in September, among the highest in recorded data. At the same time, there have been more than 200,000 job openings in the state each month since June.

Individual industries show a more nuanced picture. The average hourly wage in construction, for instance, is up 2.9% on average over the past three months and the average increase for production workers in manufacturing is 1.9%.

The leisure and hospitality sector, on the other hand, has averaged a 10.1% increase over the past three months. Workers in that sector have also been averaging an extra half hour per week compared to the same time in 2020, putting the average week at 21.6 hours in October.

The increase in hours has pushed average weekly pay in leisure and hospitality up around 12.7% over the past three months. However, weekly earnings still only total around $373 per week.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He spent also 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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