WMC Kurt Bauer

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce CEO Kurt Bauer. 

(The Center Square) – The head of the state's largest business group doesn’t appear optimistic Wisconsin will join the list of states that are rolling back unemployment benefits.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce’s Kurt Bauer told News Talk 1130 WISN’s Jay Weber that Gov. Tony Evers has not yet responded to the group’s letter from earlier this week.

“We’ll wait,” Bauer said Thursday. “Since COVID-19 started, we’ve sent the governor several formal letters and have never heard a response on any of them. I’m not sure that we’ll ever hear a response.”

Bauer wrote Gov. Evers Tuesday, asking him to leave the federal unemployment program that provides a $300 per-week enhancement in benefits.

“We cannot afford to allow able-bodied workers to remain on the sidelines while thousands of jobs are available today,” Bauer wrote in a letter to the governor.

Bauer said the extra $300 a week comes to $16.75 an-hour, much more than the starting $15 hourly wage many businesses in the state are paying.

Bauer, on Thursday, said while Gov. Evers has been silent, lawmakers are acting.

“We have heard from the legislature,” Bauer said. “I think they are drafting legislation to try and compel the governor to take some action.”

Bauer said if the governor vetoes that legislation, “that’s a decision he has to make.”

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average, down to 3.8% in March.

Bauer said Wisconsin is almost back to pre-coronavirus jobs numbers, and said that the state was short on workers back then as well.

Bauer said instead of enhanced unemployment benefits, Wisconsin should be offering people bonuses to get back to work or go into fields that are short on workers.