employers and government officials say a growing worker shortage in
Wisconsin is expected to increase over the next decade.
shortage is due to many factors, including a low unemployment rate,
an aging population and Wisconsin’s poor record of attracting
Employers from a
wide range of industries say they’re struggling to find workers —
from skilled professionals, such as nurses and computer programmers,
to lower-wage restaurant or construction workers.
Wisconsin had an
unemployment rate of 3.2 percent in July, down from a peak of 9.2
percent in January 2010. Economists say full employment is around 4
or 5 percent, a level in which nearly everyone who is able and
willing to work is employed.
The shortage is
expected to worsen as more baby boomers retire, said Ann Franz,
director of Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance. The
65-and-older population is expected to increase by two-thirds
between 2010 and 2025.
‘‘We are right
at the brink of the crisis,’’ Franz said. ‘‘There just aren’t enough
human beings in Wisconsin with baby boomers retiring.’’
president of labor union Wisconsin AFL-CIO, said some jobs’ wages
and benefits packages aren’t enough to attract workers.
manufacturing industry often can’t offer wage increases because
staying competitive in the industry leaves little profits, said
Sasha Wesolowski, human resources manager for Marquis Yachts in
the company has dozens of job openings with pay that starts at
$12.50 an hour. The company has advertised the jobs on billboards,
on a local parade float and on postcards to former employees the
company previously had laid off.
have struggled to find high-quality workers.
market is so wonky right now that there’s no consequences to being a
bad employee,’’ said Jonny Hunter, whose Madison restaurant,
Forequarter, doesn’t have enough staff to serve dinner on Sundays.
‘‘People will just quit because they want two weeks off. They can go
to another restaurant and get hired right away.