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 Alvarado

 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 19-02

Criminal Background & the Local Labor Market

Wisconsin, like many other states in the Unites States, has seen a tremendous growth in incarcerations. According to numbers from the Department of Corrections (DOC), Wisconsin’s state prison population reached an all-time high in 2007 (Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, 2019). Even though the US has been trying to actively reduce prison populations, by the end of 2017, Wisconsin was still incarcerating almost as many people as it was in 2007.  As of 11/30/18, total inmate population (which includes state and county jails) was 23,402 people. The total number of people with probation and/or parole requirements at the end of 11/30/18 was 65,556 (State Department of Corrections, 2018).


So what does this mean for the labor market in Wisconsin?

Despite the very low unemployment rates, there are still a lot of people available and ready to work. Looking at the numbers above, many of these workers have been incarcerated or involved with the law at some point in their lives. This leaves them with a criminal background to accompany them while they are job searching.


Job searching is already stressful but job searchers with a criminal background face unique but not impossible challenges. Criminal background checks are used by many employers in their pre-employment processes so there should be an expectation that they’ll have to confront their past while trying to find a job.


Tips while job searching with a criminal background


Do you have a criminal background and are looking for a new job? Here are some tips to keep in mind while job searching:

  • Be clear. On many job applications, you will see a section where you’re asked to list prior criminal convictions. Be sure to pay attention to what the employer is asking you to disclose. Do they only want to know about prior felonies? Are they only interested in all convictions that occurred in the past 7 years? Note what they are asking for and disclose only this information.
  • Be honest. This could be the most important tip. Never leave this section blank on a job application. Many employers are more concerned that an applicant is honest about their past. Keep in mind – Wisconsin Circuit Court records are available online to the public in Wisconsin. Failure to be truthful will often result in automatic disqualification. A lengthy explanation of each conviction is not required.
  • Be prepared. It can be challenging being forced to address your criminal history during an interview. Be prepared by having a short script prepared if you are asked to elaborate on your criminal background. You may have to explain your conviction(s). Show clearly that you’ve learned from your mistakes and cite what you’ve done since to improve your life. Try to explain how and why you would be a good employee. Be confident but direct by giving facts and keeping it brief. If you need some tips and tricks on how to approach this, talk with your FSET Case Manager for help!
  • Communicate Employer Incentive Programs. Many employers are not aware of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) or Federal Bonding. If the opportunity arises, you could use these as marketing tools with the employer. Ultimately, companies are in the business to make money. If you can show them that hiring you helps them with that, this may open an opportunity for you.
  • Letters of Explanation. If the application asks you to list prior convictions, you may want to attach a letter of explanation instead. In this case, you would put "see attached letter of explanation" on the application. Your letter should list your convictions, acknowledge your responsibility, explain how you have changed and list what steps you have taken to better yourself since that time. Again, if you would like some assistance in writing a letter of explanation, ask your FSET case manager for help!
  • Letters of Recommendation. Letters of recommendation may help you as well while job searching. Some possible people you could ask are your probation officer, past employers, clergy, volunteer supervisors, education instructors or your FSET case manager.

With a little preparation while being proactive, finding a job when you have a criminal background can help tremendously. If you have any questions or would like more assistance with the advice listed above, do not hesitate to contact your FSET case manager.



Formerly Incarcerated Organizers Hope New State Leadership Brings Criminal Justice Reform https://milwaukeenns.org/2019/01/16/formerly-incarcerated-organizers-hope-new-state-leadership-brings-criminal-justice-reform/, 2019


State Department of Corrections Data and Reports, https://doc.wi.gov/Pages/DataResearch/DataAndReports.aspx, 2018


 Back to Top of Page

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.

 Back to Top of Page

Employer Spotlight


Sartori Company is a fourth-generation family-owned and operated cheese company with locations in Antigo, WI and Plymouth, WI. If you visit their website, you will see that family means everything to them which includes seeing their co-workers and business partners as part of their family.


Sartori began its journey in 1939 when Paolo Sartori and Louis Rossini cofounded S&R Cheese Corporation in Plymouth, WI. Throughout the years to come, Paolo received U.S. patents for a cheese curd machine as well as a curd mixing and kneading machine. They became the first U.S. exporter of cheese to Italy and Japan and started production of a freshly grated, all-natural Parmesan cheese with a longer shelf life.


In 1996, they changed their name from S&R Cheese Corp to Sartori Foods. Then in 2006, Antigo Cheese Co. in Antigo, WI was purchased by Sartori Foods. Sartori Foods was renamed to Sartori Company in 2011. 80 years later, Sartori Company is still going strong!


Sartori is currently hiring for Wheel Production Team Members at their Antigo, WI facility! The main duties of this position include but are not limited to operating packing equipment to fill cheese wheel molds with cheese curd, moving and configuring the wheels to ensure proper wheel form, palletizing and forklift use, trimming cheese, and cleaning the production area and manufacturing equipment.


This position does require the ability to repetitively lift 20-30 lbs. along with flipping and lifting product above shoulder height and waist down to floor level. Please keep this in mind as you consider applying for this position.


If interested in working at Sartori, please discuss your interest with your FSET Case Manager. Applications can also be completed online here.

 Back to Top of Page

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)

 CountyDecember '18 November '18 October '18
 Adams5.2 4.1


 Forest  4.5   4.13.6
 Langlade3.5 3.13.1
 Lincoln2.7 2.32.5
 Marathon2.2 2.22.3
 Oneida3.9 3.02.7
 Portage2.6 2.42.4
 Vilas 4.3 3.22.9
 Wood3.1 2.92.8
 Wisconsin2.6 2.62.6

 Back to Top of Page

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.

 Back to Top of Page

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!

 Back to Top of Page

Address: Wood County Human Services - River Block

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

Phone: +1 (715) 421-8608 8


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software