TUE AM News: Report details job gains in transportation, warehousing; DWD announces 8.47 percent decrease in worker’s compensation insurance rates

— Employment in the state’s transportation and warehousing sector expanded twice as fast as any other sector over 2020 and 2021, a new Wisconsin Policy Forum report shows. 

The group’s latest report highlights the state’s jobs picture over this two-year period, showing how certain industries have recovered more than others. Total employment in December 2021 remained about 2.4 percent — or 69,428 jobs — below December 2019 levels, the report shows. That’s after total employment in the state fell to 2.49 million jobs early in the pandemic, reaching its lowest level in over two decades. 

Employment in construction; transportation and warehousing; finance and insurance; and professional, scientific, and technical services had all exceeded 2019 levels by December 2021, the report shows. 

Transportation and warehousing had the largest jobs increase among these sectors, the report shows. The sector saw a 6.3 percent employment increase as jobs grew from 121,404 in December 2019 to 129,015 in December 2021. The report points to increased levels of online commerce as a likely explanation. 

But jobs in clothing and accessories stores; amusement, gambling and recreation; membership associations and organizations; accommodation; personal and laundry services; and food services and drinking places all remained between 9.1 percent and 20 percent below pre-pandemic levels. The report shows these six subsectors account for more than half of the 69,428 jobs lost between December 2019 and December 2021. 

Meanwhile, WPF says employment in the health care and social assistance sector is showing worrying trends. The report shows jobs in this area dropped 7.8 percent early in the pandemic, but largely rebounded by July 2021. But since that time, employment in this sector has fallen to 421,205 in December 2021, marking a 3.9 percent decline from December 2019. 

Within that sector, declining employment at nursing and residential care facilities “may be the most concerning,” report authors wrote. 

“Given the state’s aging population, it appears likely that employer demand for workers is high and that declining employment numbers reflect the difficulty involved with attracting and retaining staff in the health care sector,” they wrote. 

See the full report: https://www.wisbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Focus_22_15_JobsOutlook.pdf 

— State officials have announced an 8.47 percent decrease in worker’s compensation insurance rates paid by companies in Wisconsin will take effect in October. 

The worker’s compensation program covers medical expenses and lost wages for employees who get injured at work. 

This year’s rate decrease, which starts Oct. 1, is expected to save employers in Wisconsin about $146 million. 

According to data provided by the state Department of Workforce Development, this is the seventh year in a row that worker’s compensation insurance premiums have fallen in Wisconsin. This year’s decline is also the second-largest since 2016. 

Worker’s compensation insurance rates previously declined: 5.44 percent in 2021; 0.93 percent in 2020; 8.84 percent in 2019; 6.03 percent in 2018; 8.46 percent in 2017; and 3.19 percent in 2016. 

Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Nathan Houdek says improved workplace safety practices have helped to reduce these rates, “provide a competitive advantage for employers doing business in Wisconsin, and support a more productive workforce.”

Rates are adjusted each year by a committee of actuaries made up of members of the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau. The proposed rate adjustment is reviewed and approved by the state’s insurance commissioner. 

See the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2022/dept-of-workforce-development-wisconsin-insurance-premiums-for-workers-compensation-decline/ 

— MilliporeSigma has announced it has broken ground at a site in Sheboygan where the company is building a new production facility. 

According to a release yesterday, this will be the company’s first lateral flow membrane production facility in the country. These membranes are used in rapid diagnostic test kits for applications including testing for COVID-19, HIV and malaria, as well as pregnancy testing, food safety and animal health.

MilliporeSigma is the U.S. and Canadian life science business of German company Merck KGaA. Executive board member and Life Science CEO Matthias Heinzel says the expansion will improve supply chain security and help meet customer demand. 

“This new, state-of-the-art facility will support the surge in demand experienced by our global in-vitro diagnostic manufacturing customers,” he said in a statement. 

Funding for the new facility comes from a $136.7 million contract award from the U.S. Department of Defense on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the release shows. 

Gov. Tony Evers notes in the release the company is creating 60 jobs in Sheboygan along with the new facility. 

“This new facility will provide a major step forward in expanding domestic diagnostic testing as the company’s first lateral flow membrane production facility in the U.S., ensuring our state and country are ready to tackle any public health crisis that comes our way now and into the future,” Evers said. 

See the release: 


— Health officials in Milwaukee have issued a mask advisory for the city after the county moved into the highest level for COVID-19 activity under a CDC measure. 

The Milwaukee Health Department says everyone over the age of 2 years who can medically tolerate wearing masks should do so when indoors in a public setting, regardless of vaccination status or prior infection. 

The CDC’s community levels rating includes new cases per 100,000 people in the past week, new COVID-19 hospital admissions over the same period and the percentage of inpatient hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. 

The latest coronavirus variant, BA.5, is spreading quickly in Milwaukee, according to Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson. She notes this variant is “seemingly more transmissible and more immune-evading,” even when the patient has previously been infected. 

“The good news is the COVID-19 vaccine is working to protect against severe illness and death, but masking is an important additional tool to protect against widespread infection,” she said in the advisory. 

Milwaukee County is one of 14 counties in the state that have moved into the “high” community levels category. The majority of these are located in northern Wisconsin. 

See the advisory: https://city.milwaukee.gov/Health/News/2022-News-Releases/July-2022/City-of-Milwaukee-Mask-Advisory 

See a map of community virus activity here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/data.htm 

<i>For more of the most relevant news on COVID-19, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin, links to top stories and more, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com.</i>

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— State officials have announced a total of $32.4 million in grant funding will go to developers of affordable multifamily housing projects in the state. 

Gov. Tony Evers had announced in April that $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding would be available for developers to “help fill shortages in capital sources needed” for projects receiving federal or state housing tax credits in 2020 or 2021. The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority then received grant requests for more than $38 million from developers, a release shows. 

Evers yesterday announced another $5 million in ARPA funds would be added to the grant program, and WHEDA is adding another $7.4 million from its federal allocation of National Housing Trust funds, according to the release. With the $32.4 million in total funding now available, 85 percent of the total requested project funding will be fulfilled. 

A total of 22 funded projects across 11 counties will provide about 1,200 new affordable housing units in both urban and rural communities. 

See the full list of projects here:


See the release: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WIGOV/bulletins/3213e1f 

— Austan Goolsbee, former chief economist in the Obama administration and current economist with the University of Chicago, says the Fed could easily raise interest rates by a full percentage point this month.

“The Fed is going to raise interest rates,” Goolsbee said on WISN’s “UpFront,” which is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com. “The only question is are they going to raise interest rates so rapidly and by so much that it literally drives us into recession? And it might.”

Goolsbee says the Midwest may fare worse than other parts of the country.

“It’s probably going to be a little worse for us here in the Midwest because we have a little more manufacturing orientation — Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio,” Goolsbee said. “If you have more manufacturing, that’s the sector that’s likely to be the most directly impacted by higher interest rates.”

See more from the show: https://www.wisn.com/upfront


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<i>See these and other press releases: 

https://www.wisbusiness.com/press-releases/ </i>

MilliporeSigma: Breaks ground on company’s first lateral flow membrane production facility in the United States

Dept. of Workforce Development: Wisconsin Insurance premiums for worker’s compensation decline