WED AM News: MMAC figures show impact of workforce diversity initiative; DOR projects state employment to rise 2 percent this year

— Milwaukee-area companies participating in an MMAC workforce initiative are hiring diverse employees more quickly than other businesses in the region. 

That’s according to figures released yesterday by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce on the Region of Choice consortium, a group of about 125 businesses employing more than 125,000 total workers. 

“Too often we hear that there are two Milwaukees that exist — one where there is prosperity, and one where there is not for certain populations,” MMAC Executive Vice President Julie Granger said yesterday during a webinar. “This is an effort, really, to close some of those racial disparity gaps that the region experiences very acutely.” 

Participating companies are sharing strategies for improving recruitment, retention and advancement for diverse talent, with a focus on Black, Hispanic and Latino communities. MMAC has been tracking employment figures for the participating companies since 2018 to gauge the impact of these efforts. 

The percentage of these companies’ workers who are Black, Hispanic or Latino has risen from 15.4 percent in 2018 to 17.3 percent in 2021. That’s a 12.3 percent increase over that period. By comparison, the percentage increase in diverse hiring among all metro area companies reporting data to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was 1.7 percent over a similar period. 

Meanwhile, the share of Black, Hispanic and Latino people in management roles among ROC companies rose from 6.9 percent in 2018 to 8.7 percent in 2021, according to the MMAC figures. That’s a 26 percent increase — well above the 6 percent increase reported to the EEOC for employers in the region. 

“These companies that are participating, sharing best practices, working collaboratively and doing the work through the surveys, are progressing further than other companies in the region,” MMAC President Tim Sheehy said during the webinar. “So we are doing something right here.” 

Still, he added this isn’t a “mission accomplished” moment. 

“We’re standing here saying we’ve made progress,” he said. “We have a lot more room to grow, and we want to stay at this and continue to learn.” 

See more on the initiative here: 

— In its latest economic forecast report, the state Department of Revenue says state employment is expected to increase 2 percent this year before falling slightly in the next two years. 

DOR projects employment in Wisconsin will see “small declines” of 0.4 percent in 2023 and 0.7 percent in 2024. 

“Two sectors are expected to post significant growth in 2023, namely, Leisure and Hospitality and Health and Education,” report authors wrote. “However, both sectors will still show employment levels below their 2019 levels.” 

Meanwhile, personal income is expected to rise 2 percent this year while wages and salaries increase by 7.8 percent. Looking ahead, the agency expects “nominal personal income growth” of 4 percent in 2023 and 3.7 percent in 2024. But with high inflation levels factored in, DOR says real personal income is projected to decline 3.9 percent this year. 

The report notes wages and salaries grew 7.2 percent in 2021 in Wisconsin, compared to 8.8 percent nationwide. DOR says it “expects another year of strong wage growth in Wisconsin” at 7.8 percent for 2022, versus the national rate of 8.8 percent. This trend is driven by inflation and the tight labor market, according to the agency. 

See the full report: 

— The Wisconsin Paper Council’s first annual sustainability report details the progress papermakers are making toward a variety of environmental goals. 

“The report really highlights a number of success stories, including reducing reliance on landfills, innovating products, reducing emissions, reducing water consumption, increasing biodiversity and really building communities,” WPC President Scott Suder said in an interview. “Sustainability is at the heart of what our industry does.” 

The report includes a section on Essity’s Menasha mill, which implemented process changes in recent years that cut phosphorus discharges by more than 50 percent while boosting its effluent water recycling rate from under 5 percent to above 30 percent. 

It also spotlights an effort at Green Bay Packaging to use treated wastewater from a nearby municipal plant to offset its freshwater consumption. According to the report, the company received an average of about 40 million gallons of “reclaimed water” each month in the first half of 2022, reducing the impact on the Lake Michigan watershed. 

“They have a net zero papermill in terms of water consumption,” Suder explained. “It is an impressive new technology, and that is being replicated throughout the country. They made that investment because they care about their community and about the environment, but it’s also inevitably good for their business as well.” 

See the report: 

— Property owners will pay $78.7 million more in school taxes this year, even though the state budget signed last summer aimed to drive down the annual bills.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum cited the hundreds of school referendum that have passed since the 2021-23 budget was signed as one reason for the 1.5 percent increase in property taxes statewide to $5.48 billion

The group noted the increase is relatively modest when considering several factors, including the rate of inflation.

Still, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau in a June 2021 memo projected that school levies would fall by 2.6 percent on the bills sent out a year ago and 1.9 percent this year.

Instead, they went up 0.3 percent last year and 1.5 percent this year.

See more at 

<br><b><i>Top headlines from the Health Care Report … </b></i> 

— Researchers at UW-Madison estimate the economic impact of Alzheimer’s and related dementias among Indigenous U.S. populations could exceed $1.9 billion annually. 

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