As of the 2000 census, the city had a population of 596,974 Its estimated 2008 population was 604,447. As of 2000, there were 232,188 households, and 135,133 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,399.5/km² (6,214.3 per square mile). There are 249,225 housing units at an average density of 1,001.7/km² (2,594.4 per square mile).
There are 232,188 households, of which 30.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.2% are married couples living together, 21.1% have a female householder with no husband present, and 41.8% are non-families. 33.5% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.50 and the average family size is 3.25.
According to the 2000 Census, there were at least 1,408 same-sex households in Milwaukee which accounts for 0.6% of all households in the city. Although this number is slightly lower than other cities in the region such as Chicago and Minneapolis, Milwaukee continues to be noted for its generally accepting attitudes towards the LGBT community. As a result, many gay-friendly communities have developed in neighborhoods such as Walker's Point, Bay View, Historic Third Ward, Riverwest, and the East Side. In 2001, Milwaukee was named the #1 city for lesbians by Girlfriends magazine.
In the city the population is spread out with 28.6% under the age of 18, 12.2% from 18 to 24, 30.2% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 87.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $32,216, and the median income for a family is $37,879. Males have a median income of $32,244 versus $26,013 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,181. 21.3% of the population and 17.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 31.6% of those under the age of 18 and 11.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line. At 43% in 2007, Milwaukee has the second highest black male unemployment rate in the country behind Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
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Milwaukee and its suburbs are the home to the headquarters of 13 Fortune 1000 companies, including Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual, Manpower Inc., Kohl's, Harley-Davidson, Rockwell Automation, Fiserv, Inc., Marshall & Ilsley Corp., Wisconsin Energy, Briggs & Stratton, Joy Global, A.O. Smith,GE Healthcare Diagnostic Imaging and Clinical Systems and MGIC Investments. The Milwaukee metropolitan area ranks fifth in the United States in terms of the number of Fortune 500 company headquarters as a share of the population. Brookfield is the leading commercial suburb of Milwaukee. Milwaukee also has a large number of financial service firms, particularly those specializing in mutual funds and transaction processing systems, and a number of publishing and printing companies. The Milwaukee area is also the headquarters of Midwest Airlines, Bucyrus International, the Koss Corporation, Harken, Lesaffre Yeast Corporation, Evinrude Outboard Motors (Sturtevant, WI) and Master Lock. National financial institutions with headquarters in Milwaukee include: Baird, M&I Bank, Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company, Metavante, and Fiserv.
Service and managerial jobs are the fastest-growing segments of the Milwaukee economy, and health care alone makes up 27% the jobs in the city.Twenty-two percent of Milwaukee's workforce is involved in manufacturing, second only to San Jose, California, and far higher than the national average of 16.5%.
In 2009, five Milwaukee-area companies were selected as leaders in their industries as Fortune magazine recognized “The World’s Most-Admired Companies.” Two Milwaukee companies ranked second in their field: Manpower Inc. in the temporary help industry and Northwestern Mutual in life and health insurance. Johnson Controls Inc., Glendale, placed fourth among motor-vehicle parts firms. Ranked fifth were Fiserv Inc. Brookfield, in financial data services and Kohl’s Corp., Menomonee Falls, among general merchandisers.
Milwaukee became synonymous with Germans and beer beginning in the 1850s. The Germans had long enjoyed beer and set up breweries when they arrived in Milwaukee. By 1856, there were more than two dozen breweries in Milwaukee, most of them German-owned and -operated. Besides making beer for the rest of the nation, Milwaukeeans enjoyed consuming the various beers produced in the city's breweries. As early as 1843, pioneer historian James Buck recorded 138 taverns in Milwaukee, an average of one per forty residents. Beer halls and taverns are abundant in the city to this day although only one of the major breweries—Miller—remains in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee's founding fathers had a vision for the city. They knew it was perfectly situated as a port city, a center for collecting and distributing produce. Many of the new immigrants who were pouring into the new state of Wisconsin during the middle of the 19th century were wheat farmers. By 1860, Wisconsin was the second ranked wheat-growing state in the country and Milwaukee shipped more wheat than any place in the world. Railroads were needed to transport all this grain from the wheat fields of Wisconsin to Milwaukee's harbor. Improvements in railways at the time made this possible.
There was intense competition for markets with Chicago, and to a lesser degree, with Racine and Kenosha. Eventually Chicago won out. Due to its superior position on major railroad lines connecting east and west, Chicago had a distinct advantage over Milwaukee. The wheat market though, guaranteed Milwaukee's place as the commercial capital of Wisconsin.
Milwaukee was once the home to four of the world's largest breweries (Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst, and Miller), and was the number one beer producing city in the world for many years. Despite the decline in its position as the world's leading beer producer after the loss of two of those breweries, its one remaining major brewery, Miller Brewing Company remains a key employer by employing over 2,200 of the city's workers. Because of Miller's solid position as the second-largest beer-maker in the U.S., the city remains known as a beer town despite now only representing a fraction of its economy.
The historic Milwaukee Brewery, located in "Miller Valley" at 4000 West State Street, is the oldest still-functioning major brewery in the United States. In July 2008, it was announced that Coors beer would be added to the list of beers brewed in Miller Valley. This created additional brewery jobs in Milwaukee, as its world headquarters moved 100 miles (160 km) south from Milwaukee to Chicago.
Besides Miller and the heavily-automated Leinenkugel's brewery in the old Blatz 10th Street plant, the only other currently operating stand-alone breweries in Milwaukee are Milwaukee Brewing Company, a microbrewery in Walker's Point neighborhood, and Lakefront Brewery, a microbrewery located in Brewers Hill. The suburb of Glendale is home to Sprecher Brewery, another locally popular microbrew. Various brewpubs can also be found throughout the Milwaukee area, including Milwaukee Ale House and Water Street Brewery.
Three beer brewers with Wisconsin operations made the 2009 list of the 50 largest beermakers in the United States, based on beer sales volume. Making the latest big-breweries list from Wisconsin is MillerCoors at No. 2. MillerCoors is a joint venture formed last year by Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Co. and Golden, Colorado-based Molson Coors Brewing Company. The Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe, Wisconsin which brews Huber, Rhinelander and Mountain Crest brands, ranked No. 14 and New Glarus Brewing Company., New Glarus, Wisconsin whose brands include Spotted Cow, Fat Squirrel and Uff-da, ranked No. 32.