Economist: Workforce slowly improving

By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News

Jan. 22, 2015

 Wandy Miezioof from the Office of Economic Advisors talks about the average annual wage trends over the years at the Washington County Workforce Development Center on Wednesday morning in West Bend. The presentation touched on the wage growth between the United States, Wisconsin and the Milwaukee area.
Photo by John Ehlke

Economic conditions in Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Metro area, which includes Ozaukee, Washington, Milwaukee and Waukesha counties, are showing slow but steady improvement.

Economist Wandy Miezio of the state’s Workforce Development Center told an audience of Washington County business owners and leaders Wednesday in West Bend that new and vacant old jobs are being steadily filled by employers across the nation and Wisconsin after seeing positive economic signs.

 Erin Beyer of TRN Technical reads over the outline for the presentation of Wandy Miezio of the Office of Economic Advisors at the Washington County Workforce Development Center on Wednesday morning in West Bend. 
Photo by John Ehlke

“Right now the labor market is a buyer’s market for employers meaning they can dictate salaries and who they hire, but it’s slowly moving to be a seller’s market, which means prospective employees will have a better opportunity to select the position they want at a higher salary than businesses were willing to pay over the last few years,” Miezio said. “The forces of supply and demand determine wages and right now the employers are setting the salaries.”

Miezio said the state’s job growth numbers consistently rank below the national numbers, but there’s “been a lot of crazy job growth” in the Madison and Kenosha areas.

According to the WDC, the annual job growth rate nationally between now and 2022 is expected to be 1 percent, while Wisconsin’s rate is projected to be 0.7 percent. Miezio said in November the state’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate stood at 5.2 percent while the national rate was 5.8 percent.

“Wisconsin consistently has a lower unemployment rate than the nation, but the gap is shrinking,' Miezio said.

 Wandy Miezioof from the Office of Economic Advisors displays a map highlighting Wisconsin as having more bars than grocery stores at the Washington County Workforce Development Center on Wednesday morning in West Bend. The map was used in a tongue-in-cheek manner to attempt to find a correlation between the wage increase trends between the United States and Wisconsin. 
Photo by John Ehlke

Miezio said the average salary for workers in Wisconsin is below the national average, but employers around Milwaukee and Madison are paying their workers much more than the state average.

“Even though some employees are seeing salary increases, many of the increases are failing to keep up with the rate of inflation,” Miezio said. “The rate of inflation over the last few years has run at about 10-12 percent. When you compare that with the raises employees received, their salaries actually declined during that period.” Miezio said the WDC expects job growth to be the largest in the health care and education and professional and business services sectors.

The occupations that are expected to see the largest number of projected annual openings are office and administrative support and food services followed by sales and related occupations, Miezio said. Miezio told her audience the WDC projects annual job openings through 2022 in Wisconsin to include 24,000 new jobs and 72,000 replacement jobs, which means that job openings in Wisconsin through 2022 are expected to be about 96,000.

“In some cases job openings are being created by our population growing older and those kinds of employees deciding to retire,” Miezio said.

 Ken Heins of KLH Industries Inc. talks over the outline with a individual before the presentation of Wandy Miezio from the Office of Economic Advisors at the Washington County Workforce Development Center on Wednesday morning in West Bend.  
Photo by John Ehlke

WDC Marketing Manager Michael Walczak said the center provides several similar types of sessions throughout the year for potential employers.

“We want to provide them with the answers to the questions they have about the trends in the economy and in the workforce,” Walczak said. “By presenting them with the latest information it helps them to make their decisions about adding new jobs or the growth of their business.

“We survey them regularly to see what they want to hear more about,” Walczak said. “There will be three or four sessions later this year on other topics they want to hear about.”