Six people crowded a small waiting room near the back end of The Home Depot in Wauwatosa on Feb. 24 for a job fair. Each hoped to land employment at the home improvement and construction retailer.
One woman filled out a piece of paper just outside the room, using a metal shelf as a surface to write on, while others waited for their names to be called.
The Atlanta-based retailer looked to hire 30 to 50 people for its Wauwatosa location, 4100 N. 124th St., before the busy season of projects starts up — likely late spring or early summer -- said Cathy Radtke, associate support department supervisor for the store.
While Home Depot does conduct a job fair annually, Wauwatosa's retail sector is expected to grow significantly by 2030, according to a recent analysis conducted for the city by real estate and advisory firm SB Friedman Development Advisors.
The study primarily focused on housing needs in Wauwatosa, but a large component driving residential demands could be employment — another area explored by the Chicago-based firm.
A net 9,300 new jobs are projected through 2030 in Wauwatosa. Retail is expected to grow from 5,151 jobs in 2013 to 5,521 jobs in 2030.
Mayor Kathy Ehley said the number of new jobs comes as no surprise, especially with local hubs like the Medical College of Wisconsin nearby.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “And it’s to be expected.”
The highest projected growth areas are the professional services and health care sectors.
A 25 percent increase is estimated for the city's professional services sector between 2013 and 2030, or roughly 4,000 new jobs, according to the study — a jump from 15,374 jobs in 2013 to a projected 19,360.
Approximately 3,700 new jobs are projected for the health care sector over the same period.
Much of the projected employment growth is anticipated to occur at the major institutions already located in Wauwatosa, according to the study.
The major driving forces in Wauwatosa's economy are anchored at the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Innovation Campus and the Milwaukee County Research Park.
The 175-acre research park focuses on technology-based businesses and currently employs about 4,600 people. The number of jobs there is expected to grow about 20 percent over the next five years, said the park's executive director, Guy Mascari.
"The research park is a huge success, but I think it will plateau," Mascari said, adding the number of jobs at the park could level out at around 5,500 or 6,000 jobs.
Mascari said it's common to hear about land being repurposed for retail and residential use, but more land for professional services could soon be in the works.
"A discussion might be appropriate in a few years about identifying land that could be set aside for research and technology," he said.
The study identified Wauwatosa as a regional destination for shopping and dining; the city provides a number of employment opportunities for those working in retail, leisure and hospitality.
Mayfair mall, the North Mayfair Corridor — including The Mayfair Collection, the Village of Wauwatosa and commercial districts along North Avenue — are all considered shopping nodes in the city.
"Wauwatosa also has a strong advanced manufacturing base due to employers like Harley‐Davidson and Briggs & Stratton, both of which have major research and development/engineering facilities in the city," the study reported.
"Furthermore, numerous small- and mid-sized businesses in the city are similarly involved in research and development, engineering, and advanced manufacturing."
Where employees live
The study by SB Friedman found that while Wauwatosa is a major employment center in the Milwaukee area, much of the city's workforce does not live locally.
About 54,600 people were employed in Wauwatosa in 2013, but only 7.5 percent — or 4,087 people — also live in the city, according to the findings.
"Interviews with stakeholders suggested that the low percentage of Wauwatosa workers who also live in the city may be driven, in part, by the availability and price of housing," the study reported.
However, the study found there is significant opportunity to capture Wauwatosa employees who do not currently live within the city's limits if new housing units are developed that are attractive to Wauwatosa employees.
Milwaukee is the largest source of the city's employment base, accounting for 29.2 percent of Wauwatosa's workforce in 2013, down from 33 percent in 2002.
Nearby communities West Allis, Brookfield, New Berlin and Menomonee Falls collectively provided approximately 13 percent of Wauwatosa workers since 2002.
Residents from other communities amounted to 46.9 percent of Wauwatosa workers in 2013.