In March, the average hourly wage for a private sector worker in Wisconsin was $29.80, up more than 6.9% from the same time in 2021, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The reading marks the third straight month Wisconsin has seen year-over-year wage growth of more than 6%. For the first quarter, the state averaged 6.6% growth, good enough for 22nd in the country. New Mexico has the strongest growth over that period, averaging more than 10%.
This is the first time, in data going back to 2007, Wisconsin has seen wage growth over more than 6% in three straight months. The best months in the data came at 8% growth in April 2020, when the departure of thousands of lower wage workers from payrolls during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic distorted the metrics.
Otherwise, the state’s best wage growth previously comes from a two-month stretch in May and June 2018 at 6.3% and 6.1%.
Like the 2018 period, Wisconsin labor market is extremely tight at the moment with the unemployment rate reaching 2.8% in March.
Wisconsin’s wage growth in the first quarter out-paces all but one nearby state. Indiana ranks second in the country with 9.2% growth. After Wisconsin, Michigan is 26th in the country with 6.4% growth, Minnesota is up 6% and ranks 29th, Iowa is up 5.5% and ranks 35th and Illinois is up slightly less than 5.5% and ranks 36th.
The state’s wage growth has been stronger in service sectors, where the average year-over-year increase in the first quarter was 7.4%.
Goods producing sectors, on the other hand, have averaged a 4.8% increase. Construction wages were up an average of 3.7% while manufacturing wages were up 3.8%. Within manufacturing, the average wage of production workers increased 5.2% in the quarter.
From the service sector, the leisure and hospitality industry has averaged a 10.2% increase year-over-year. The average hourly wage was $15.88 in January 2021 and reached $17.65 by March.
Trade, transportation and utilities has also seen strong growth relative to the state as a whole, up almost 7.9% on average in the quarter. Wages in financial activities averaged a 7.3% increase and professional and business services averaged 7%.
Education and health services lagged behind the state slightly with 6.2% average growth.