An Oct. 6 debate between candidates for the 18th State Senate district in Wisconsin covered topics ranging from jobs to education to gun control to abortion. In the debate, which was sponsored by Eye On Oshkosh, the two candidates, Democrat Mark Harris and Republican Dan Feyen, offered their solutions to the problems facing the district and the state. Feyen later won the seat by almost 10,000 votes.
While Feyen was talking about job growth and emphasizing the need for a “great tax climate,” he made a claim about available jobs in Wisconsin.
“We have 90,000 jobs available right now on Wisconsin Job Center website,” Feyen said.
The Observatory checked the validity of this claim as well as at the quality of these jobs and their viability for the average citizen.
The first time we checked its website on Oct. 20, the Job Center of Wisconsin listed 94,196 available jobs. When we checked again on Oct 28, that number had risen to 95,567 job openings. The site updates nightly.
Because Feyen’s claim is in the general vicinity of the updated figure and is a conservative estimate — and because the site’s job availabilities frequently update — Feyen’s claim that 90,000 jobs are available is verified.
While the figure itself is close, the site warns about fraudulent offers and employment scams:
Many of the “jobs” advertised describe fabulous opportunities but are actually
only scams to take your money. Suspicious “jobs” usually require people to
send money in advance for information about the “opportunity”.
Because checking the reliability of 95,000 job postings is nearly impossible, we decided to look at jobs in the cities of Oshkosh and Fond du Lac. These cities are in the 18th State Senate District, and the job openings there are more relevant to Feyen’s constituency. Additionally, if the jobs found in these areas are viable, it’s likely that other jobs on the site are also viable.
In the city of Oshkosh, there were 336 jobs that have been listed within the last 30 days as of Oct. 20. In these 336 job listings, there were 696 open positions. This means there is the opportunity for 696 people to obtain employment in Oshkosh. But, according to the Job Center of Wisconsin this search includes partner organizations whose results are not controlled and could contain duplicates.
By using just the Job Center of Wisconsin as our source and no other partner organizations, we found that there are 141 job types available and 501 open positions. Of those 141 jobs, 104 are full time, 73 require at least a high school diploma and 16 require a bachelor’s degree. For an area with a population of 66,000, over 80 percent of whom are over 18 years old, and an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent, 2,900 people who are unemployed, 141 available jobs do not seem sufficient.
In Fond du Lac, the Job Center had 122 jobs available and 223 openings when we checked. Of these 122 jobs, 72 required at least a high school diploma. Fond du Lac has a population of almost 43,000 people, an unemployment rate of 2.9 percent and 1,700 people who are unemployed. More than 75 percent of the population are adults. As was the case for Oshkosh, the number of jobs available in Fond du Lac do not seem sufficient.
While Feyen’s claim is verified, the number of viable jobs for unemployed people in the major cities in his district does not appear to meet the demand, especially for those who have not graduated high school.
Job Center Website, accessed on Oct. 20 and Oct. 28