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New survey shows impact of worker shortage on local manufacturers

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Businesses across Wisconsin have been struggling to find employees for months and a new survey from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) shows how widespread the impact has become.

The survey asked more than 200 businesses how they were handling the work shortage. The survey showed that 86 percent of business owners reported having a workforce shortage.

A recent survey from WMC shows 86% of employers are struggling to find workers.

"The survey quantifies what we've been hearing anecdotally for months," said WMC President Kurt Bauer. "That they're having trouble finding workers, that government is impeding their abilities to find workers with bad policies that are incentivizing people not to work."

Bauer said unemployment benefits put in place during the pandemic are likely to blame for the shortage in Wisconsin. Currently, people who are unemployed can receive up to $300 more than usual due to the pandemic.

"We had a workplace shortage prior to COVID-19, now we're in a workforce emergency, primarily caused by the $300 per week supplemental from the federal government," Bauer said.

85% of employers say they're in favor of ending additional benefits put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Evco Plastics in DeForest is one of the many local manufacturers affected by the shortage. The company specializes in health care technology, and makes COVID-19 test kits.

It is currently looking at nearly 30 positions across its five locations that it hasn't been able to fill.

"Just recently it seems as though there aren't a lot of people that want to come to work," said Evco human resources manager Amy Ruehlow. "I'm not sure if it's the unemployment benefits that they're taking advantage of but we just can't seem to find people that want to come to work and stay working."

A few workers gather at Evco Plastics in De Forest, WI. (Photo: Ward Jolles WKOW)

Officials at WMC are calling on Governor Tony Evers to immediately suspend additional unemployment benefits put in place due to the pandemic, but Evers isn't backing down.

"There's gonna be all sorts of folks that can say 'here's my story' but the data does not exist that says these people could be working and they're not," Evers said.

Ward Jolles

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