Wage Growth in Wisconsin Outpacing U.S.

While the lack of available talent has been a common complaint amongst businesses over the past several years, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest average wages for private sector employees in Wisconsin have increased faster than the United States as a whole over roughly the past two years.

In May, for example, the average weekly private sector wage in Wisconsin increased 6.4 percent from the same time in 2017, to $869.66. Nationwide, the increase was 3.1 percent, to $923.98. Account for inflation, and Wisconsin’s average wage was up $29.36 per week while the country’s was up just $2.27 per week.

Wage gains outpacing the national average are not a one-month phenomena for the state, either. Wisconsin averaged a year-over-year increase of 5.7 percent in the first five months of 2018, compared to 2.7 percent for the U.S. For all of 2017, the state averaged an increase of 3.6 percent, while the country averaged 2.8 percent.

The wage growth roughly coincides with when the state’s unemployment rate dipped below 4.5 percent. It has continued to trend downward, reaching a seasonally-adjusted 2.8 percent in April and May.

The largest increase statewide has been in financial activities, up an average of 8.1 percent. Professional and business activities wages increased an average of 3.8 percent, education and health services averaged a 3.1 percent increase, leisure and hospitality improved 2.1 percent, and construction averaged just a 1.9 percent increase.

Statewide, wages in the manufacturing sector increased an average of 4.7 percent, but pay for production workers was up just 2.9 percent.