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 18-04


Understanding the Federal Poverty Limit and the ALICE Population in Wood County

The following ALICE terminology and research is from a United Way of South Wood and Adams County presentation, given on October 24, 2018 in Adams, WI. All other NorthCentral FSET data is original to the NorthCentral FSET CSS team. For more information, click here


Have you ever wondered how FoodShare or BadgerCare benefits are calculated? Benefit eligibility is directly related to where you fall on Federal Poverty Limit scale. The FPL, as we will refer to it from now on, can be a little confusing. If someone is at 100% FPL, that means that that person earns the minimum wage needed to survive in his or her county, as calculated by the federal government. If someone receives any more income than that amount, their percentage will go up. In order to receive BadgerCare, an individual must be at or below 100% FPL. FoodShare is a little more complicated, but most individuals receive FoodShare when their income falls at or below 200% FPL. Check out the graphic below:

For an explanation on how to use this graphic to calculate your FPL percentage, check out this video:  https://youtu.be/azRIHSrmwLs 

Now that you hopefully understand the FPL a little more than you used to before reading this article, let’s relate this new knowledge to the Labor Market in the NorthCentral FSET region. When someone earns a wage at a certain number of hours per week that puts them just above the FPL, that wage might still not be enough for sustaining or growing a lifestyle, so it is called a “survival wage”, or possibly more familiarly referred to as living “paycheck to paycheck”. The United Way of Wisconsin dubbed this category the “ALICE” category, or those who are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, & Employed.

As of 2016, 10% of Wood County households were in poverty (or fell at or below the FPL), 24% fell into the ALICE threshold, and 66% fell above ALICE. When it comes to families with children, 36% of single female-headed families are in poverty, 38% are ALICE households, and 26% fall above ALICE. Single male-headed households are recorded as being 16% in poverty, 34% in ALICE, and 50% above the ALICE threshold. 53% of individuals 25 or under in Wood County are classified as ALICE, whereas 15% of those between the ages of 25 to 44 are ALICE.

According to the employment data for the NorthCentral FSET Program (gathered by the CSS Team), the average wage in Wood County for FSET program participants as of November 2018 is $11.28 an hour at an average of 32 hours a week. The ALICE report states that the survival budget for a single adult who falls within the ALICE threshold is $9.92 an hour at 40 hours a week, and for a family of four is $30.70 an hour (total income for the household) at 40 hours a week. As shown from the data gathered, the FSET participants in Wood County on average make a higher wage than the ALICE single adult survival income. There are several factors that go into explaining that specific data, such as the lack of information that we have on the household size of FSET customers that are working at $11.28 an hour. However, this all of this data combined gives us a much clearer picture of survival vs. sustainable wages in Wood County.

If you have any specific questions regarding this information, please contact the CSS team!



ALICE Report:


Federal Poverty Limit: 


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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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Hot Jobs

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

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

For more information, click HERE.

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Thru 10/31/18
   2,968 People 
 have gotten jobs
In the NorthCentral
   FSET Program

Unemployment Rates

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



NorthCentral Region Rates

(not seasonally adjusted)

 CountySept August July
 Adams 3.1 4.3


 Forest 3.6 4.54.9
 Langlade 3.0 4.04.4
 Lincoln 2.4 3.33.3
 Marathon 2.2 2.72.8
 Oneida  2.6 2.82.9
 Portage 2.4 2.93.3
 Wisconsin 2.6 3.13.1

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Employer Spotlight


West Corporation was founded in 1986 by Mary West in Omaha Nebraska an inbound contact center with the name West Telemarketing.

In its early years, West took calls to sell items advertised on TV such as magazine subscriptions, Richard Simmons workout videos, Tony Robbins self-help programs and BluBlocker sunglasses!

Infomercials continued to grow in popularity which helped contribute to West’s growth. By the end of 1988 (only 2 years later!), West had reached 1000 employees.

In 1989, West started processing long-distance phone calls for users of prepaid calling cards. In 1990, West began offering outbound contacting to customers for large-volume sales campaigns.

West Telemarketing changed its name to West Corporation in 2000 to reflect the scope of all the services they were offering.

When asked why someone should work for West Corporation, West Human Resources Recruiter Aaron Schoepke said:

West gives you the tools to be successful!  Listen, learn and apply your own touch to our programs, and your determination will be rewarded.  We ONLY promote from within, which makes climbing the company ladder a reality!  Our benefits package is SECOND TO NONE!  Amongst other things, we offer up to 26 days of PTO during your first year and will match your contributions to a 401k up to 6%!!  Yes, I’m serious!!!

Currently, West is hiring for several different positions at their Wausau facility. Positions include Customer Service Representative, Sales Representative, and Financial Services Representative.

For full listing of jobs available, visit West’s Career webpage at https://www.west.com/careers-search/.

If you are interested in working in a call center setting and use a sales approach in your work, West may be a perfect fit for you!

Please reach out to your FSET Case Manager if you are interested or have any questions.

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Fastest Growing Jobs (per North Central Workforce Development Board)

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

Another category of fastest growing jobs are Farmworkers and Laborers. When we use the term “laborers”, we are in this case talking about those who work in manufacturing or factory-type jobs. When we use the term “farmworker”, we are referring to those who work on a farm of any kind. Pretty simple, right?

Below you can see two career paths, one for laborers and one for farmworkers. These are not the only things that you could ever do in these two fields, but the graphics are outlining just a few of your options. Hopefully these will jog your creativity as you think of many more opportunities in these careers!

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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