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Old 12-08-2006, 06:59 PM
 
8 posts, read 89,412 times
Reputation: 12

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Considering a move to either Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN or Madison, WI. I have been to Madison numerous times and absolutely love it there. I have been told by numerous people that job prospects are alot better in Minneapolis (because of the larger metro area there and the fact that in Madison, many of the graduates of UW stay in the area because they like it so much and hence many people are employed, but are underemployed).

From anyone that currently lives in Madison, can you elaborate on the job market and how you like living there? What are the pros/cons? (besides the cold weather in the winter).

I'm an environmentally minded person, into the outdoors, and a fan of progressive environments (hence my desire to live in these two places).

Thanks in advance,
E.

 
Old 12-09-2006, 01:33 AM
 
Location: Chicago
36,415 posts, read 57,359,773 times
Reputation: 25337
I'm a former resident of Madison. I loved living there and I still make it a point to visit several times a year. I don't know enough about the Minneapolis/St. Paul job market to make a direct comparison. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Madison's unemployment rate as of October 2006 is 2.9%. That's very tough to beat. An anecdotal indicator that the job market continues to grow is that the population itself continues to grow, both in Madison Proper and in the metro area. This is a long-term trend and it probably wouldn't be happening if the job market weren't also expanding. Plus there are a lot of government jobs in Madison; in addition to the city bureaucracy, Madison is also the county seat, state capital, home of the state's flagship university, and host to a federal court building. That's a lot of recession-proof employment that has a secondary stabilizing effect on the surrounding/supporting private sector.

Pros:
  • The winters may suck (that's a matter of opinion, I happen to like cold snowy winters) but the summers are fabulous
  • Lots of outdoor recreational opportunities in the city itself (two large lakes and some nice parks) or within a short drive (every corner of the state provides its unique opportunities be it hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, canoeing/kayaking, rock climbing, river rafting, et cetera)
  • Hanging out on UW Union terrace overlooking the lake on a summer evening
  • If you're a beer snob, Madison has the best local beer scene in all the Midwest -- nearby world-class breweries include Great Dane (right downtown), Capital, New Glarus, Tyranena, Lake Louie, and probably a couple others I've forgotten
  • Lots of community support for local business gives the city a unique, eclectic personality and keeps it from being a generic chain-store Hell
  • Lots of good restaurants, particularly ethnic restaurants
  • Amazingly good schools for a city of its size that compete with the best suburban school districts the state has to offer

Cons:
  • Insane housing costs, especially for a city of its size and location
  • The insufferable self-righteousness that wafts from the university, but at least it's less militant than I've observed from other major universities
  • Speaking of universities, UW is both surprisingly civilized and quite rambunctious. The former element rules downtown during the day; unfortunately the latter takes over downtown at night, especially on weekends
  • Sky-high property taxes. BUT, for once you actually get what you pay for in the way of high-quality schools, nice clean parks and a sound, well-maintained infrastructure
  • Traffic through downtown can be a snarl during rush hour, but compared to major metros like Chicago, DC, L.A., NYC, and whatever, it's a minor inconvenience.

I can't recommend Madison highly enough, and in fact, I hope to move back there myself within the next 2 to 3 years.

Good luck with your move if you decide to undertake it.

Last edited by Drover; 12-09-2006 at 01:57 AM..
 
Old 12-09-2006, 08:48 AM
 
8 posts, read 89,412 times
Reputation: 12
thanks for all of your info.

E.
 
Old 12-09-2006, 10:18 PM
 
Location: Chicago
36,415 posts, read 57,359,773 times
Reputation: 25337
If you're worried about underemployment, here's some data for you. According to the American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau, Madison's per-capita income as of 2005 is $27,475. This is 10% higher than the national average of $25,035. Also keep in mind that the 10% higher rate accounts for tens of thousands of broke-ass college kids with little to no income. Factor them out and per-capita income for people who actually work for a living is even higher. In short, you should have no difficulty earning a living in Madtown.
 
Old 12-10-2006, 09:51 AM
 
8 posts, read 89,412 times
Reputation: 12
Thanks for the encouraging stats. I have sent quite a few resumes to places in Madison and haven't gotten many phone calls in return.
I know that the biotech industry is pretty hot in Madison but their legal market (my profession) is pretty flooded. I am not opposed to working in a business/finance type role either.
In your experience or opinion, what are the major employers (non government/non University) in the area?

thanks,
E.
 
Old 12-10-2006, 10:44 AM
 
Location: Chicago
36,415 posts, read 57,359,773 times
Reputation: 25337
Bummer to hear about the legal market in Madison being flooded. You'd think the government would be soaking up the legal workforce leaving the private sector wide open. Guess that's not how it works. I'm in law school right now with the hopes of practicing in Madison after I graduate. Maybe my best move then is to start at a larger firm here in Chicago with a Madison branch and try to transfer internally to the Madison branch. We'll see how it goes. Best of luck to you.
 
Old 12-10-2006, 04:19 PM
 
8 posts, read 89,412 times
Reputation: 12
Hey Drover,

I've been an attorney in Illinois for two years. Where do you go to school in Chicago?

I recently got my WI law license and have been looking for both gov. and private sector jobs in Madison over the past few months. Not that I have been looking forever, but it is kind of discouraging, considering I took the WI bar exam to specifically work in Madison.

From what I have been told, there are too many attorneys in Madison to support the small size of the market. According to the WI bar homepage, there are something like 2500 attorneys in Dane County. In comparison, there are I think like 4000 attorneys in Milwaukee County, which is obviously much larger. Its nothing like the oversaturated Chicago market, which has, according to the ISBA, 40,000 attorneys. Chicago is an awful place to be an attorney. Long hours, awful people, etc. etc. Avoid it at all costs if you want anything resembling a normal, healthy life.

I'd think you'd be best by maybe concentrating on a Milwaukee firm, instead of a Chicago firm, and lateralling into the Madison market in a few years. I don't really know too many Chicago firms that have a Madison office (although I could be mistaken since I don't deal too often with large law firms in my line of work).

I'm just going to keep looking. Who knows what will come up.

take it easy-
e.
 
Old 12-10-2006, 04:30 PM
 
Location: Chicago
36,415 posts, read 57,359,773 times
Reputation: 25337
I'm attending John Marshall Law School. One of the largest law schools in the country, the largest in Illinois by far, huge alumni network.... and yet, that alumni network is very highly concentrated in Chicago. This school has a reputation outside of Chicago as a third-rate school (undeserved in my opinion -- two of the state's Supreme Court justices are JMLS graduates for crying out loud) so unless I get lucky I'm kind of stuck in the Chicago market, at least while I get started.
 
Old 12-12-2006, 12:09 PM
 
Location: Chicago
36,415 posts, read 57,359,773 times
Reputation: 25337
Quote:
Originally Posted by EframInIllinois View Post
Thanks for the encouraging stats. I have sent quite a few resumes to places in Madison and haven't gotten many phone calls in return.
I know that the biotech industry is pretty hot in Madison but their legal market (my profession) is pretty flooded. I am not opposed to working in a business/finance type role either.
In your experience or opinion, what are the major employers (non government/non University) in the area?

thanks,
E.
Wow, I just now noticed that you asked a question that I totally missed and didn't answer...

I guess the major private-sector industry in Madison would be insurance. American Family Insurance is headquartered there, and so is WPS, a statewide health insurance supplier. So is CUNA Mutual Group, the insurance division spun off by Credit Union National Association which is technically headquartered in Washington DC but conducts most of its business affairs in Madison.

Other corporate employers: Ray-O-Vac's North American headquarters is there (though their corporate headquarters is in Atlanta). Oscar Mayer Brands is headquartered there, now operating as a division of Kraft. Oh, and Alliant Energy, which supplies electric and gas utility throughout southern & eastern Wisconsin and most of Iowa.
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