Tech-heavy Milwaukee industries have $27.6 billion impact

Tech-heavy industries in the Milwaukee area made up nearly a quarter of the region’s $119.2 billion economic output last year, with a $27.6 billion impact.

That’s according to a new report commissioned by some of the region’s biggest companies: Northwestern Mutual, Advocate Aurora Health, MillerCoors, Rockwell Automation, Johnson Controls, Foxconn and others. It focused on industries that have 15 percent or more of their workforce in technology occupations.

The report, titled “Milwaukee’s Tech Talent Impact,” shows the area had nearly 76,000 employees in 2017 working in 89 different types of jobs. And the estimated earnings for all these workers is over $4.7 billion per year.

Those numbers are only expected to grow, as 31,000 job openings are predicted in the next five years based on past rates of retirement and career-switching.

“This study demonstrates the increasing economic impact of technology talent in our region and helps us better understand the needs for future growth,” said John Schlifske, chairman and CEO of Northwestern Mutual. “The private industry sector is committed to attracting and retaining tech talent, which will help position Milwaukee for success in a digital future.”

Nick Turkal, president and CEO of Advocate Aurora Health, argues that southeastern Wisconsin is no longer just a manufacturing economy.

“Our call to action is for employers, higher education and workforce development agencies to make investing in our digital workers and emerging technologies across all fields — including health care — a top priority for the region,” he said.

Some specific occupations are seeing higher than average growth rates, which the report defines as between 9 percent and 16 percent. These include: market research analysts, management analysts, computer system analysts, software developers, mechanical engineers and computer and information systems managers.

The report shows overall growth in tech workers for the Milwaukee area has been somewhat lower — 8 percent between 2010 and 2017.

About 75 percent of the region’s tech labor force is made up of three job categories: computing/mathematics, engineering and business/finance.

TIP Strategies, an Austin company, and San Antonio-based Huls Group conducted the study on behalf of 20 employers and local nonprofits in the seven-county Milwaukee region. Research incorporated data from CompTIA’s Cyberstates 2017 report, the Brookings Institute and local employers.

–By Alex Moe