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Wisconsin-Based Employer Survey Finds More Potential Job Growth

Sunny Report Comes Amid Worry Over Statewide Worker Shortage

man working in factory
jaymarable (CC-BY)

A hiring forecast released Tuesday morning shows Wisconsin with one of the nation’s most positive outlooks for adding jobs.

The employment report by Milwaukee-based Manpower Group says 26 percent of Wisconsin employers interviewed plan to add jobs during the next three months. Four percent predict layoffs, while about 70 percent plan no change in staffing. Manpower’s Michael Stull says a couple of business sectors look particularly good.

“I think the ones that are really strong are certainly in construction, and then also in terms of manufacturing. Manufacturing continues to pick up pace, and manufacturing in Wisconsin is certainly outpacing the rest of the country,” Stull said.

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The upbeat hiring outlook is pretty much statewide, with the Madison area looking strong, Stull said. He predicts many job-seekers will find opportunities but applicants will be best off if they have updated their work skills, “to keep themselves relevant, because what we’re seeing in the job market today, skills are starting to change. So keeping up, maintaining that relevancy in the marketplace is going to be key as we move forward.”

Still, the positive hiring outlook is tempered by what many economists, employers and government officials see is a growing worker shortage in Wisconsin that is expected to increase over the next decade.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports the worker shortage is due to many factors, including a low unemployment rate, an aging population and Wisconsin’s poor record of attracting college graduates.

Wisconsin had an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent in July, down from a peak of 9.2 percent in January 2010. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings have outpaced new hires for the past two years.

Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance Director Ann Franz said the shortage is expected to worsen as more baby boomers retire.

Phil Neuenfeldt is president of labor union Wisconsin AFL-CIO. He said some jobs’ wages and benefits packages aren’t enough to attract workers.

Manpower’s survey says nationally, the hiring picture is good, with 21 percent of employers saying they’ll add workers. Six percent predict layoffs. All employment sectors have a positive hiring outlook, with leisure and hospitality the strongest. Manufacturing has its best forecast in 10 years.