Wisconsin’s strongest 2018 job growth came from outside Madison and Milwaukee metros

Green Bay, Wausau and Fond du Lac areas see top employment gains

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Wisconsin added an estimated 44,900 private sector jobs from December 2017 to December 2018, a nearly 1.8 percent increase. While the state’s two largest metro areas both added thousands of jobs during the year, it was other parts of the state that saw the strongest job growth.

Regions outside of the state’s 12 metropolitan statistical areas added 20,100 jobs in 2018, a 3.1 percent increase. Private sector employment in the state’s metro areas increased 1.3 percent, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Among the metro areas, Green Bay had the strongest job growth for the year with private sector employment up 2.94 percent. Wausau was second at 2.88 percent followed by Fond du Lac at 2.35 percent.

The Madison metro area, which includes Dane, Columbia, Green and Iowa counties, saw employment increase 1.22 percent.

Metro Milwaukee, defined as Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties, added 6,800 jobs, an increase of 0.87 percent.

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The region’s strongest job growth during the year came from construction, durable goods manufacturing and health care. Those gains were partially offset by declines in retail and wholesale trade along with financial activities and professional and business services.

With unemployment rates near or below 3 percent around much of the state, job growth alone does not give a full picture of Wisconsin’s labor market. The state saw an average year-over-year increase of weekly wages of 4.5 percent.

For much of the year, Wisconsin’s wage increases were among the top 10 states nationally. In the fourth quarter, however, the state saw a sharp slowdown in wage growth.

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The Madison area had the best wage growth throughout the year, averaging an increase of 6.5 percent. Sheboygan was not far behind, averaging an increase of 6.3 percent, although weekly wages in that area were down 3.4 percent in December.

Metro Milwaukee averaged a wage increase of 4.4 percent, but the region was a major contributor to the slowdown in state wage growth, averaging just 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

Wages in metro Racine were also a drag on statewide figures, averaging a drop of 5 percent for the year, including a 4.5 percent drop in December.

Read more economic data reports at the BizTracker page.

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