Central Wisconsin businesses will seek to recruit recently discharged members of the U.S. military, people with disabilities and those who’ve been incarcerated. Those are components of an effort promoted by local business groups seeking to address a workforce shortage a Wausau Chamber of Commerce leader calls a “long-range threat” to the region.
At a press conference Monday, chamber leaders from Wausau, Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids and Marshfield said workforce shortages experienced across the state are especially acute in the central region. Statewide, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate hit a record low of 2.8 percent in March, and the state’s labor participation rate of more than 66 percent is well above the national average. And the unemployment rate in recent years has tended to be lower and the labor force participation rate higher in central Wisconsin than the statewide averages.
“We’re not in a big metro area,” Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce president Dave Eckmann said. “In this day and age, we simply do not have enough talent to support the economic growth happening in all of our communities.”