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Wisconsin Employers Are Expecting To Hire, But Face Worker Shortage

Nearly Half of Employers Tell ManpowerGroup They Can't Find Workers

job seekers line up to attend a National Career Fair
Ernest Clymer and dozens of job seekers line up to attend a National Career Fair, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in New York. Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

The latest hiring outlook report from the Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup found 34 percent of Wisconsin employers surveyed expect to add staff in the coming quarter, while just 2 percent of respondents in the state expect staffing decreases.

That puts the state ahead of the country as a whole. Nationally, 24 percent of employers expect they’ll be hiring in the next three months, while 3 percent anticipate smaller payrolls.

Wisconsin’s net hiring outlook is up 10 percentage points since the third quarter of last year. No one industry is driving the uptick.

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“Leisure and hospitably in this time of the year is pretty high, but even manufacturing, I mean really across all industry levels we’re seeing increases,” said Amber Laurent, a regional director for ManpowerGroup in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee and Madison are in the top 10 cities nationally for anticipated hiring in the coming quarter, with Milwaukee having one of the rosiest hiring outlooks in the country.

The most recent survey of employers from the ManpowerGroup found 35 percent of companies in the Milwaukee metro area plan to add to their payrolls in the next three months and just two percent plan to cut staffing levels. Only Indianapolis and Raleigh, North Carolina have more companies expecting to hire.

But Laurent said employers are feeling anxious about filling those openings. The hiring outlook doesn’t take into account any companies moving into the state that plan to hire, including Foxconn. The Taiwanese manufacturer will break ground later this month on a LCD screen factory in Racine County and could employ up to 13,000 people in Wisconsin in the coming years.

And 46 percent of employers across the country report having trouble finding workers. Laurent pointed to retiring baby boomers and low unemployment as two factors making it difficult for companies to recruit.

“The trend is going to continue,” she said. “We’re not expecting to see any relief from this for the next several years. So it’s a very difficult market to be an employer right now.”

Laurent said the crunch has companies offering more paid time off, better benefits and more flexible work schedules.