Jeramey Jannene

Milwaukee Ranks High for Construction Workers

New study ranks it second among peer group cities and best for sheet metal workers.

By - Dec 21st, 2020 04:14 pm
Construction workers at Fiserv Forum in July 2017

Construction workers at Fiserv Forum in July 2017. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Want to work in construction? There are few places better than Milwaukee to do so.

That’s according to an analysis by Next Insurance. The company ranked the city’s 52 largest cities based on seven factors including average salaries, cost of living, weather and open federal government contracts.

Compared to its peers, Milwaukee is second best, trailing only Kansas City. Its peer group is defined as “mid-sized cities” with a population of between 350,000 and 600,000.

Milwaukee scores the highest of any peer city on average construction salary, $72,458. But compared to Kansas City’s 317 open federal contracts, Milwaukee has only 34. The cities have a similar number of private work opportunities, according to August 2020 data from ConstructionWire. Minneapolis, Cleveland and Atlanta round out the top five of mid-sized cities.

When looking nationally, Milwaukee falls from second to 16th. Almost all of the cities ahead of it are either in warmer climates, or substantially larger. Chicago leads the list.

Milwaukee’s high salary score continues to boost its ranking (seventh-highest overall, with only cities with a higher cost of living ranking higher), but it falls behind when it comes to the number of open federal contracts and private jobs.

St. Louis ranks second overall, buoyed by the $1.7 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency campus construction project. The city, with 811 open federal contracts, is too small to be considered a mid-sized city by the insurance company’s classifications.

Also ahead of Milwaukee are four cities in California, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City, New York City, Louisville, Kansas City and Washington D.C.

Milwaukee’s poor weather score is no surprise. Of the 52 cities surveyed, it has a second-worst average temperature difference of 23 degrees from the study-defined optimal 71 degree temperature. It also has a 13th-worst 127 days of precipitation. Only rainy Portland and Seattle rank higher, but have a lower weather score.

Of the seven analyzed factors, weather got the lowest weighting (0.5). The study also analyzed the number of open jobs (1.75), open federal government contracts (1.75), area job competition (2), average salary (2), overall employment rate (1) and cost of living (1).

When looking at specific industry sectors, Milwaukee ranks best in the nation for sheet metal workers. The sector analysis compared cost of information and salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

COVID-19 regulations play into the study results, although not explicitly. The unemployment rate data is current as of July 2020. According to BLS data, Milwaukee’s rate of 8.4% was 18th lowest at that point.

So why does a company called Next Insurance care what cities are best for construction? The company specializes in insurance for small businesses and self-employed workers.

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Categories: Real Estate

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