(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s largest business group says the numbers prove what they have been saying for more than a year – the government’s response to the coronavirus cost people their jobs and hurt businesses throughout the state.
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce on Monday released the latest report from its Wisconsin Employer Survey. The numbers show that 64% of businesses said the coronavirus lockdowns hurt their businesses, and 52% said the lockdowns forced them to cut jobs or reduce hours.
“Government-mandated lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic devastated Wisconsin businesses, forcing many to cut costs and reduce staff,” WMC President & CEO Kurt Bauer said.
The survey results are not surprising. WMC has said for most of the past year that restrictions on bars, restaurants, and shops crippled their owners. Even now, Bauer said, the government’s response to the coronavirus is hurting the effort to get back to normal.
“With roughly half of Wisconsinites fully vaccinated, employers are now looking to increase staff levels and get our economy moving again,” Bauer added.
Bauer and WMC have been some of the most frequent critics of the extra $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits. Bauer said those extra benefits are keeping people at home and out of the workforce.
The Employer Survey shows most office-based workers in Wisconsin are not going to have the option to work from home much longer.
“For companies that moved staff out of traditional offices, they raised concerns about loss of company culture, decreased collaboration and lack of communication. Moving forward, only five percent of respondents said they would allow employees to work from home permanently,” The survey stated.
Most Wisconsin businesses say all of their workers should be back at work by the end of the year, the survey shows that 74% of businesses say their workers already have.
“Wisconsin employers are ready to get back to work,” Bauer said. “While offices will likely look different moving forward, this survey shows most of us are just ready to get back to normal.”