Wisconsin wages rise as job growth slows

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

Wisconsin’s year-over-year job growth began to slow in the third quarter of 2016, but average weekly wages made one of their largest jumps in the last five years, according to new data from the state Department of Workforce Development.


The data also show stronger job growth in health care and social assistance, professional and technical services and construction, while the state’s manufacturing sector lost jobs.

Overall, the state added 25,608 jobs between September 2015 and September 2016, an increase of 1.05 percent. The figures are based on data that ultimately forms the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which will be released for the entire country next week.

The pace of job growth was up slightly from June, when the state added 25,105 jobs over the previous year, a 1.02 percent increase that ranked Wisconsin 31st in job creation. The June and Septembers figures are down from the start of the year when the state increased jobs by 1.7 percent.

Even as job growth slowed, average weekly wages in Wisconsin increased by $48 to $883, a 5.8 percent jump. The increase was the third largest since the start of 2012 and the second increase of more than 5 percent in the last year.

The state’s labor market has increasingly become tighter in recent years, potentially driving up wages. During the third quarter the unemployment rate hovered around 4.2 percent and labor force participation was around 68.3 percent.

Local job growth

Dane County had the strongest job growth of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, adding 8,080 jobs, a 3.2 percent increase. Wages were also up 7 percent in the county to an average of $1,005, the second highest average in the state behind Waukesha County.

Southeastern Wisconsin’s job growth was led by Kenosha County, which added 2,671 jobs, a 5.1 percent increase. Kenosha, however, had the second lowest average weekly wage in the region at $756, an increase of just 2.3 percent over 2015.

Ozaukee County added 1,282 jobs, an increase of 3.3 percent, Sheboygan added 1,081 jobs, a 2 percent jump. Walworth increased 2 percent, adding 600 jobs while Washington County’s 528 jobs added amounted to a 1.1 percent increase.

Waukesha and Milwaukee counties added 1,567 and 1,295 jobs respectively, but with the most workers in the region, the counties managed just 0.6 and 0.5 percent increases. Racine County, meanwhile, was up 0.6 percent, adding just 299 jobs.

While Kenosha’s wage growth was the lowest in the region, Sheboygan County was up 9.4 percent to $898. Walworth County was up 6.5 percent to $703. Wages in Milwaukee ($966), Racine ($882), Waukesha ($1,015), and Ozaukee ($854) were up 5 to 6 percent. At an average of $830 per week, Washington County wages were up 3.5 percent.

Industry by industry 

But some industries and areas of the state’s economy have performed better than others. The health care and social assistance sector added 10,364 jobs between September 2015 and September 2016, a 2.5 percent increase. Construction added 2,297 jobs, a 2 percent jump and professional and business services added 8,523, a 2.7 percent increase.

The state’s largest private sector industry, manufacturing, lost 3,996 jobs over the year, a 0.85 percent decrease. The total net decline in the industry’s employment represents the largest drop over a 12-month period since it shed 5,501 jobs between May 2009 and May 2010.

Among individual industry groups with more than 10,000 employees, many of the more significant job losses were in manufacturing related industries. Those included agricultural, construction and mining machinery manufacturing, down 11 percent; foundries, down 5.9 percent; machine shops and threaded product manufacturing, down 4.4 percent; electrical equipment manufacturing, down 3.1 percent.

Other industries with declines included electronic shopping and mail order houses, down 8.6 percent; department stores, down 4.1 percent; animal slaughtering and processing, down 4 percent; health and personal care stores, down 3.4 percent; pulp paper and paperboard mills, down 2.1 percent and nursing care facilities, down 2 percent.

The fastest growing industries included management of companies, up 9.1 percent; individual and family services, up 8.8 percent; insurance agencies and brokerages, up 6.9 percent; warehousing and storage, up 5.9 percent; software publishers, up 5.8 percent; building finishing contractors, up 5.7 percent; building equipment contractors, up 5 percent; computer systems design, up 5 percent; amusement and recreation, up 4.6 percent; and outpatient care centers, up 4.1 percent.

Read more economic data reports on the BizTracker page.

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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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