Wisconsin, Facing a Worker Shortage, Pitches Its Benefits

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Beer. Cheese. The Packers.

That’s what many people think of when they hear “Wisconsin.” But the state wants to add a new word to the list: jobs.

The Badger State has an abundance of job openings, but not enough workers to fill them. Now, elected officials and businesses are hoping to woo residents from nearby states by pitching a low cost of living, short commute times and what they say is a high quality of life.

“It’s great to have more people working in Wisconsin than ever before, but it creates a challenge,” said Tricia Braun, chief operating officer for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. “We just essentially need more people.”

The worker shortage comes as the state is about to get even more jobs. Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group is investing $10 billion in a 20 million square-foot campus in southeastern Wisconsin that will make liquid-crystal-display screens like the ones used in smartphones, car dashboards and televisions. The facility is expected to employ as many as 13,000 workers.

In January, the economic development group announced a $1 million ad campaign trying to persuade Chicago millennials to move north to Wisconsin. Republican Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a broader ad campaign across Midwestern cities that would cost an additional $6.8 million. It is expected to pass the Republican state legislature this legislative session by March.

Like the rest of the Midwest, Wisconsin is contending with slow population growth, spurred by an aging population, fewer immigrants and low natural birth rates. Since 2010, the number of people leaving the state has exceeded the number of people moving in, according to Census Bureau data.

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