Nick Novak Profiles Wisconsin Workforce Shortage on Madison’s WKOW-TV

MADISON – Wisconsin manufacturers say they’re having trouble finding enough workers to fill the job openings available. However, there’s disagreement about what is causing the shortage.

In Baraboo, Teel Plastics’ business picked up when the pandemic hit as the manufacturers started producing swabs for COVID-19 tests. But hiring didn’t follow the same trend.

“It’s pretty difficult to find workers, and that’s across the organization, everything from entry level people on the manufacturing floor to engineers to support roles,” Christian Herrild, the company’s director of growth strategies, said.

Nick Novak, the vice president of communications and marketing for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, said the business group believes a federal program is making it harder for companies to hire workers.

He said expanded unemployment benefits, which provides up to $300/week in addition to state unemployment benefits, is incentivizing people to not start a new job.

“That is making it so that folks can stay at home and make about $16.75 an hour,” he said. “That’s a significant amount for someone to not be in the workforce. … There’s been a workforce shortage in manufacturing for years, and it is only made worse by the fact that we’re offering expanded unemployment benefits to folks who could be entering the workforce.”

Watch the segment at