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Workers wanted in Wisconsin: Businesses need help filling open positions

Posted at 6:06 PM, Feb 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-13 11:27:28-05

After Friday's jobs report was published, it showed there's no better time to look for employment than right now in Wisconsin.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics published its monthly report Friday, showing the economy added some 225,000 jobs in January. With 75% of Wisconsin businesses struggling to find workers, those employers are coming up with better ways to attract workers.

Some areas that saw the biggest growth were in construction and the hospitality industry. Kurt Bauer, President and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) says it's a good indicator of how well the economy is doing.

"When people are employed and have discretionary income, they want to spend it on restaurants and leisure activities," Bauer said. "When things are going well, businesses expand and they build houses. That's a major indicator the economy is strong in Wisconsin and nationally."

Bauer says there are more available jobs than there are people in the state. So employers are forced to sweeten the pot.

"There is a talent war in Wisconsin," Bauer said. "If you can't find workers, those jobs will go someplace else and they'll have an impact on our economy in the long term."

Larger markets and cities are going to have a larger pool of workforce options," Sean Wille with Stand Eat Drink Hospitality said.

Wille says the restaurant industry typically has a revolving door of employees since they deal with a lot of part-time help. However, he said even the restaurant industry is evolving in their ever-competitive field.

"You have to find different creative ways to incentivize employees," Wille said. "Whether that's providing growth, benefits, opportunities, experiences or working in different unique ways as well."

"They're increasing hiring bonuses, hourly pay," Bauer said. "They're seeking workplace adjustments like working from home, dress for your day, a variety of different activities to bring in the best and brightest."

For the restaurant industry, they're working on retention and showing employees there is a future in the business more than just tips.

"We have different roles and responsibilities," Wille said. "Like marketing, event planning, bookkeeping team. There are a lot of different opportunities in the group that might not register when you're thinking food, drink and hotel service but they're there. They exist."

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