We have gathered important information about the local labor market to help job seekers understand the current trends in the NorthCentral Region. Check back regularly for updates and a new article every month. 

Career Services

Our Career Services Team specializes in our local labor market. They have formed connections with local employers to facilitate opportunities for FSET customers. They also work with labor market experts to gather the best information available about the trends in the NorthCentral Region.

CSS Team

 Kailey Holloway

 Career Services Specialist

 (Adams, Portage, Wood)

 (715) 315 - 0191



 Megan Stanchik

 Career Services Specialist

 (Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Oneida, Vilas)

 (715) 216 - 0144


Let's Talk Labor Market 19-01

Staying Relevant – What Local Business Closures Can Teach Us About Our Job Search

The 2018 holiday season ended with a shocking announcement  that Figi’s was closing down major parts of their business.  On Friday, January 4, 2019, 129 employees were immediately laid off. An additional 147 employees will be laid off at the end of March 2019. Around 125 employees will keep their jobs to run specific parts of the business. The gift company was founded in Marshfield in 1944 and has deep roots in the community. Many people throughout Wood, Portage and Marathon counties, including quite a few of our NorthCentral FSET program customers, work at Figi’s every year during the holiday season.

In addition, Drs. Foster and Smith parent company, Petco, announced that Drs. Foster and Smith’s closure is to take place in February 2019. Drs Foster and Smith have been a large and important employer in Rhinelander who have employed dozens of FSET customers through the years.

These closures follow the closure of major store closings in Central Wisconsin including Toys-R-Us, Borders Books, The Sports Authority, JC Penny, Younkers, K-Marts and dozens of mall retailers.

Have you ever wondered why this is happening to companies that, at one time, were so popular? Sometimes the reason why certain stores have closed is clearer than with others. Toys-R-Us couldn’t compete the toy prices at Walmart, Target and Amazon. Borders couldn’t keep up with Amazon’s electronic book initiative. Sometimes it’s just a little bit of natural selection, like how Dick’s Sporting Goods bought Sports Authority.

Ultimately, one could say the closures were due to the company not remaining relevant in the changing economy. Figi’s focus was on selling gift baskets, gourmet food and holiday gifts primarily through catalog orders. While Figi’s offered the opportunity for their customers to place orders online, most of their customers were not as familiar with technology and so continued to place their orders via phone. Figi’s was not able to reach new customers in the changing landscape of online shopping. Drs. Foster and Smith’s main business consisted of selling pet supplies. That industry has exploded with many national retailers who were able to establish a larger footprint and develop new ways to reach consumers. The buyout of Foster and Smith to Petco was not enough to save their type of business model. 

With the rise of Amazon and other faster, more convenient shopping options, companies of the 20th Century are closing at an alarming rate. Think about when you are looking for a holiday gift or a doggy bed. Where do you go first? Do you get in the car and drive to Target? Walmart? Do you shop online at Amazon, and maybe get Free 2-Day shipping right to your front door with Amazon Prime? Do you visit Walmart’s website to check out what they have in stock? When examining our own choices, the reason why these companies are closing becomes clearer. Business that are not able to adapt quickly to the new way people consume products, they will not survive.

So then, what is the lesson you can take from these closures? How do I stay relevant to the ever-changing workforce?

1.       Expand your footprint. Employers are recruiting employees very differently then before. Few will accept in-person applications and most are not waiting for resumes to be sent to them. Employers are using Facebook. Linked-In and other social media platforms to both recruit and reach out to prospective candidates.  Are you using Linked-In to advertise yourself? Have you connected to targeted groups on Facebook to get yourself known to employers? If not, you might find yourself being left out of the labor market. Although with the current labor shortage, it is easier to find “a” job, but finding that ideal job takes more work and innovation. Talk with your case manager about how you can expand your “footprint” in the labor market.

2.       Expand your expertise. Many new retailers are thriving in this new economy by becoming either more specialized or becoming more expansive. Bombas is a company that only specializes in high-end socks, something no retailer would have ever though feasible 10 years ago. But, with an online, specialty world, the company is thriving. Amazon is a great example of being expansive – having a lot of everything.  Which direction should you go?  That is up to you. Either way, FSET can help with providing additional training options to increase your expertise in a field. Check out our Education  page.  You can start immediately doing career assessments and online classes. Talk with your case manager if you want to be a Bomas or an Amazon type job seeker and let our program help you achieve your goal!

Our Career Services Team is also ready to provide information on the current labor market, job trends and training opportunities in the area.

Articles Referenced: 






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Top FSET Employers

The following are 3 of the employers who have hired the largest number of FSET customers in 2018. 

Infinity Foods, formerly known as both Infinity Foods and McCain Foods, combined operations to become Infinity Foods on August 1, 2018. Since that time, Infinity has hired 8 FSET customers from both Wood and Portage County. Most of these employments took place during the month of October, and the CSS team expects the number of FSET customers hired at Infinity to continue to go up. 

Nicolet Staffing, a staffing and employment agency with locations in Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens Point, is hiring for the Eastbay/Footlocker holiday season. Nicolet is offering their seasonal employees transportation from Stevens Point to Eastbay in Wausau in order to accommodate Eastbay's large seasonal push. 12 FSET customers have been employed through Nicolet since the beginning of 2018, with an continued expected increase towards the end of the year. 


Midwest Labor has locations that service the NorthCentral FSET Program in Marshfield, Wisconsin Rapids & Stevens Point. With 36 employments for FSET customers during 2018 (so far!), Midwest Labor is a go-to employment agency for anyone who's looking for quick and simple placement with an employer. Midwest usually specializes in jobs with manufacturers, and several FSET customers have gone on to be hired on directly at the manufacturer of their choice.

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Employer Spotlight


K-Tech Building Maintenance, founded in 1975, became part of Vonachen Group in 2016. Vonachen Group was established in 1968 as a family-owned janitorial service company. K-Tech Building Maintenance itself delivers commercial janitorial services to industrial, medical, and clinical facilities across central and northern Wisconsin.

Since its founding, Vonachen Group has evolved into a full-service facility maintenance leader that provides janitorial services, healthcare services, logistics and special services for a wide range of clients throughout Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska and Tennessee.

K-Tech Building Maintenance is currently hiring! They are searching for General Cleaners and Floor Tech Technicians across the FSET region including in Stevens Point, Wausau, and Wisconsin Rapids. No prior experience is necessary for General Cleaner positions!


K-Tech is also looking for an Area Operations Manager for the Wausau/Stevens Point area. Qualifications include previous cleaning and account management experience. This is a salaried position and includes a car allowance!


If you are interested in applying for any of these positions, you can apply online

here. We recommend that you search for all available jobs in Wisconsin to catch all open positions. If you don't see something available that you're interested in, check back later as open positions can change daily! 

If you have any questions about these positions or are interested in applying, talk with your FSET Case Manager! 

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Unemployment Rates

Click on the map to view the most current Unemployment Rates, by county, for Wisconsin.



NorthCentral Region Rates

Unemployment statistics pulled from Bureau of Labor Statistics run by the United States Department of Labor. For more information, go to https://data.bls.gov.

(not seasonally adjusted)

 CountyNovember October September
 Adams4.1 3.5


 Forest  4.1   3.63.6
 Langlade3.1 3.13.0
 Lincoln2.3 2.52.4
 Marathon2.2 2.32.2
 Oneida3.0 2.72.6
 Portage2.4 2.42.4
 Vilas3.2 2.92.7
 Wood2.9 2.82.7
 Wisconsin2.6 2.62.6

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Hot Jobs

The following are the most in-demand fields in the NorthCentral Region:

  • Sales
  • Registered Nurse
  • Heavy & Tractor-Trailer Drivers
  • Marketing
  • General/Operations Manager
  • Accountant/Auditor
  • Maintenance/Repair Worker
  • Construction Worker
  • Carpenter
  • Welder

For more information, click HERE.

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Thru 11/30/18
   3,026 People 
 have gotten jobs
In the NorthCentral
   FSET Program

Fastest Growing Jobs (per North Central Workforce Development Board)

Please head to the NCWDB's website for more data regarding the NorthCentral region!

As you can see, many of the fastest growing jobs are entry level positions, and they pay a lower wage. But don’t let this discourage you if this is not what you want to do long-term! Everyone needs to start somewhere.


Keep in mind that all these positions allow you to gain experience and knowledge that you can take along with you as you travel along your career path.


For example, retail sales is a growing job field with lots of potential. Note the graphics below showing two possible outcomes from starting out with a retail sales position!


Remember – every job counts!

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Address: Wood County Human Services - River Block

111 W. Jackson St., 2nd Floor, Wisconsin Rapids WI 54495  

Phone: +1 (715) 421-8608 8


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