Survey reveals 86% of area businesses struggling to hire

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 8:58 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2021 at 9:11 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Those help wanted signs keep growing as many businesses say they’re struggling to keep the doors open.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce released results of a new survey highlighting the problem impacting about 86% of employers statewide.

Along Bellevue Street just outside KI, there’s a row of help wanted signs as the company attempts to fill open positions during a time that’s never been so challenging.

“We’re looking for 102 fulltime people right now across all of our Wisconsin manufacturing facilities and about 100 temporary employees and that’s just not typical this time for the year,” said Tom Abrahamson KI Vice President, Manufacturing Operations.

It’s not just manufacturing.

Restaurants, bars, and even hotels are short-staffed.

Some, like Cranky Pat’s Pizza in Neenah are even taking more drastic measures.

This recorded message greets customers calling in orders.

“Unfortunately we are having to close on Sundays, due to a lack of staff. We apologize for any inconvenience,” says a voice.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, a lobbyist group for businesses, says there’s a big reason workers aren’t coming back as the COVID-19 pandemic winds down.

“Nearly nine in ten businesses in Wisconsin are struggling to hire workers. Of those businesses struggling, about a third of them are actually blaming the expanded unemployment benefits, that additional $300 federal benefit that folks can currently receive while sitting on the sidelines,” said Nick Novak, WMC Vice President, Communications & Marketing.

At KI, the problem extends even to it’s suppliers, which has created a backlog across its entire supply chain.

“We know there’s a labor shortage prior to COVID, but now that we’re competing with the federal government it’s made it much more difficult,” said Abrahamson, adding, “We have a record backlog right now and our supply chain, we source about a 100 million dollars of components in the upper Midwest, 66 million from Wisconsin businesses alone and every one of our suppliers says they could give us more components if they had more people.”

The federal supplement for unemployment benefits will continue through September 6th.

So far, Governor Tony Evers has not indicated he will change that, despite calls from Republicans to re-direct the money.

Democrats argue that employers should offer a higher starting starting wage.

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