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American wages are increasing by record highs, but not without a price for Northeast Wisconsinites

Posted at 10:26 PM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 23:40:12-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — American wages have increased by historic levels.

"We've seen an increase in entry-level and skilled-labor wages here over the last couple of years," Bay Area Workforce Development Executive Director Matt Valiquette said.

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In the three months ending in September, the U.S. Labor Department reports third-quarter wages leaped by 1.5 percent, a record high over the past two decades.

But in Northeast Wisconsin, that might not come without a price. Valiquette says a 3.6-percent inflation rate over the last year is a key factor.

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"The cost of living has gone up," he said. "Nobody wants to work and struggle to pay their bills, so naturally employers would need to raise their wages."

Still, Valiquette has heard some local commercial drivers are making nearly $100,000 annually with just weeks of training.

"Manufacturing, healthcare, the need for skilled labor in those industries is only going to increase, particularly here in Northeast Wisconsin," he said.

NEW Manufacturing Alliance Executive Director Ann Franz agrees.

The Job Center of Wisconsin currently has over 130,000 job openings. There are only around 50,000 applicants.

"That's like one-in-three employers can find one of those people and the rest… you're out of luck," Franz said.

But with raised wages, local companies are forced to charge more for their services.

"In all sectors, you are seeing prices go up," Franz said. "Because they can't take it out of their own pocket, right? They have to find the money somewhere."

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With over 10 million jobs available nationwide, experts advise applicants to consider benefit packages as well as pay.

"If you're at a company you really love, maybe a dollar more really isn't going to be that much of a difference in the end," Franz said.

Valiquette says you can call the Bay Area Workforce Development Board for job search assistance and potential grants.