Without new residents, Wisconsin could lose 130,000 workers by 2030

More workers are retiring or moving out of the region than are entering the workforce
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 9:03 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Concerns are growing that Wisconsin’s worker shortage will be much worse over the next decade.

A study just released from a Madison company, Forward Analytics, says that by 2030 the working population will be down by an estimated 130,000 people.

Across Wisconsin, many businesses are finding it harder to hire, and that challenge might not get easier after data from the 2020 Census was analyzed showing that there aren’t enough young people to replace a second wave of Baby Boomers preparing to retire.

“Essentially what we’re going to see is that workforce shortage really on steroids to some degree,” said Dale Knapp, director of Forward Analytics.

He added, “We’re going to see businesses closing,” and, “You may end up seeing businesses leave the state because they just can’t find the workers here.”

The data also indicates the number of college graduates leaving Wisconsin continues to be problematic.

Many are heading to states with bigger cities.

“I do believe that as we look at our local economy, our strategy is to retain. How do we retain these individuals? How do we make sure they know there’s opportunities here locally?” said Brad Gast, Dean of Workforce Training, Northcentral Technical College.

Experts say one group that Wisconsin has traditionally done well with is attracting people looking to raise a family. However, the recent census shows a change there as well.

Knapp said, “The problem is we’ve weakened relative to past decades in terms of that group.”

While the state does well with a lower cost of living, job seekers might not have the income they desire.

“Our pay generally is 10 to 15 percent below the national average and we’re less than Minneapolis, less than Chicago, less than a lot of these places young people want to go,” Knapp added.

So what’s the solution?

Experts say one idea is that the state needs a better marketing plan, especially for people in their 30′s and 40′s, highlighting the state’s lower crime rate, good schools, and many outdoor activities.