Friday October 4th is Manufacturing Day in Wisconsin. We celebrate manufacturing and product engineering and design this month as it is the backbone of our economy. For every one factory job, seven other jobs are created! Kurt Bauer of the WMC, or Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, shared his thoughts Thursday in a breakfast hosted by the Waukesha County Business Alliance. Some of the key takeaways are below.
Jobs appear to be contracting in Wisconsin, with 4,000 jobs lost since January, and the lowest manufacturing job growth in 10 years. There are 22 sub-sectors making up manufacturing, and some may already be in recession. There is also growing pessimism nationwide. There are three main components driving the contraction.
- A weakening global economy, especially in the EU and Germany, along with China.
- The political climate. In Washington, it is uncertain, and investors hate uncertainty. Tariffs are having an effect, but many feel they are worth it if they can level the playing field with China. And the lack of passage of the US/Mexico/Canada trade agreement, or USMCA, which is critical for manufacturing and agriculture in Wisconsin! On the state level, Governor Evers campaign proposal to eliminate the manufacturing and agricultural tax credits, as well as our Right-to-work status, could seriously weaken the migration of companies relocating to Wisconsin!
- A workforce problem, as there just aren’t enough people to fill all the open positions! We have 3.1% unemployment, and 4% is considered full employment! A 0.1% increase is projected in the working population from 2010 to 2040, which is contraction! One cause here is the reduction in the birth rates, as people just aren’t having as many children.
Overall, while there may be reason for concern, don’t panic. There are still a lot of positives out there! Let’s urge our legislators to do the right thing not only for manufacturing in Wisconsin, but throughout the country. Please don’t make it harder than it has to be!