WMC Kurt Bauer

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce CEO Kurt Bauer. 

(The Center Square) – The latest snapshot of Wisconsin businesses once again shows there are a lot of open jobs and not a lot of people to fill them.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business group, on Wednesday released a survey that says nearly 90% of businesses in the state have been unable to fill jobs.

“According to the Wisconsin Employer Survey, 86 percent of businesses are struggling to hire workers,” WMC announced Wednesday.

WMC President & CEO Kurt Bauer said Gov. Tony Evers has taken the state’s worker shortage and turned it into a worker emergency.

“It is time for Gov. Evers to connect the dots on this major issue for our economy,” Bauer said. “Hundreds of Wisconsin businesses just barely survived months of government-mandated lockdowns, restrictions and limited capacity. Now, many of those same businesses face another serious government-imposed burden in the form of overly generous unemployment benefits that have created a full-blown workforce emergency.”

Gov. Evers has refused to withdraw Wisconsin from the enhanced federal unemployment program. WMC and Republican lawmakers say the extra $300 a week the program provides pushes Wisconsin’s unemployment benefits over $600 a week. Bauer said that’s enough to keep people from returning to work.

Gov. Evers continues to say he hasn’t seen any data to make him believe that.

WMC’s survey asked business owners about unemployment benefits and whether it's keeping people at home.

“When asked why they were having trouble hiring workers, a plurality – 35 percent of businesses – said the unemployment benefits were too generous,” the report states. “That was followed by 30 percent blaming a lack of applicants with the proper skills and 26 percent blaming the overall shortage of people. Additionally, 85 percent of employers said they support ending the $300 pandemic-related unemployment enhancement.”

Bauer said Wisconsin businesses have needed workers for years. But he said this go-round is different.

“We must address long-term challenges to retain young Wisconsinites after they graduate from high school, attract people from outside the state to live and work here, and train people who need upskilling for the family-supporting careers we have available,” Bauer said. “[But] repealing the expanded unemployment benefits is a short-term solution that our economy needs right now.”