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— The head of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce expects energy inflation this year will hurt manufacturing and agriculture.
Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of WMC, says higher energy prices could “very well tip the U.S. into a recession” in 2023. His prediction was included in the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s latest Wisconsin Economic Report.
But he also says the ongoing workforce shortage could help stave off this possibility. Citing an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Bauer says a recession can’t occur without a “spike” in the unemployment rate. He notes that even with high inflation, supply chain disruptions and higher interest rates, the state’s unemployment rate is just 3.3 percent, slightly higher than Wisconsin’s record low rate of 2.8 percent.
“It’s a paradox,” he wrote. “The labor shortage is keeping many Wisconsin businesses from growing, but it may also help buoy the economy in a downturn.”
Other trade association leaders included in the report focus on the challenge posed by the workforce shortage. Brandon Scholz, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Grocers Association, says Wisconsin lawmakers and employers should be focusing on “quality of life issues” to bring more workers to the state.
“Good businesses, strong communities, safe streets and less crime, daycare, housing, public transportation, and good schools are key components of attracting new workers to Wisconsin,” he wrote. “These changes will require funding solutions, regulatory relief, and legislative initiatives in local, county, and state governments.”
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Krentz says a lack of available workers will “continue to drive innovation and automation” as farmers in the state find ways to do more with fewer resources.
And Robb Kahl, executive director of the Construction Business Group, is hopeful this year will bring “an increase in owner confidence” to invest in new projects. In addition, he hopes to see a better interest rate climate and more stable material prices.
The report also includes perspectives from WBA President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels, Wisconsin Hospital Association President and CEO Eric Borgerding, Wisconsin Realtors Association President Michael Theo and Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still.
See the full report here: https://www.wisbank.com/2023forecast/
— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Katherine Sanders, founder, owner and president of Sanders Consulting in Fitchburg.
Sanders describes herself as an “industrial and systems engineer” focused on making work healthier for people.
“My specialty is in human factors engineering, and most people would think of ergonomics, right? And it is that,” she said. “But I focus more on the psychological and social aspects of work, and what work can do to make employees healthier and be able to give their best contributions over long periods of time.”
She discusses her previous consulting work with the Wisconsin Medical Society and other clients in “high-burnout” industries such as education.
“When you have an industry or an occupation that has these continual patterns of people entering the field and becoming exhausted, then you know it’s actually not the individuals, right?” she said. “Then you know it’s actually the system you’ve introduced these individuals into that’s creating the exhaustion.”
Listen to the latest podcast here: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2023/wisbusiness-the-podcast-with-katherine-sanders-sanders-consulting/
See the full list of WisBusiness.com podcasts: https://www.wisbusiness.com/category/podcast/
— December home sales in the Milwaukee area declined 35 percent over the year, the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors reports.
Total sales for the metro area fell from 1,963 in December 2021 to 1,272 last month, according to the group’s latest update.
Meanwhile, fourth quarter sales dropped 14.5 percent compared to the same period of 2021, falling from 23,827 to 20,368.
GMAR describes the picture for 2022 as “a tale of two markets.” The first half of the year was still gripped by “pandemic-fueled buying frenzy,” as sales were only slightly behind the record-high levels seen in 2021. But rising interest rates in the second half of 2022 led to a more significant decline compared to the prior year.
The group warns that the total number of home listings is “dangerously low,” driving many potential home buyers to rental options instead. New listings for the metro area were 20.2 percent lower compared to the previous December, and 14.3 percent lower for the year overall, according to GMAR. This issue is compounded by a lack of new construction, the report shows.
“The pressure of high demand on low supply can only be expressed through increasing prices, and that is what the metropolitan market saw in 2022,” report authors wrote. “Every county in the region saw its average sales price increase by at least 7 percent.”
See the full report here: https://www.gmar.com/resources/research-statistics/2022-housing-statistics
— Two companies have been named winners of the Water Council’s fall 2022 Tech Challenge, which comes with a $10,000 prize.
A Slovakian business called Meratch has won the challenge’s sensor category with a wireless smart device for measuring water variables including quantity, velocity and acidity, according to a release from the Milwaukee-based council. The company’s product can be used for monitoring wastewater systems and wells, as well as in systems for preventing floods and tracking pollution.
Meanwhile, Atlas Sensor Technologies of El Paso, Texas, won the contest’s water hardness monitoring category. It has developed a low-cost sensor for water softeners, the release shows.
Karen Frost, the council’s vice president of economic development and innovation, says the Tech Challenge helps startups get connected to “established water leaders” in the industry. The contest is sponsored by A.O. Smith, Badger Meter and Watts Water Technologies.
“We are proud to discover previously unknown emerging innovation for our sponsors through this program,” Frost said in the release.
— Up to $2 million is available through the Department of Workforce Development’s latest round of Wisconsin Fast Forward grant funding.
The program is meant for employers with a “critical need” for skilled workers that want to establish training programs, according to a DWD release. Eligible applicants can include public agencies, private organizations across all industries, coalitions and tribal entities.
Grants will range from $5,000 to $400,000 per recipient. The application deadline is 3 p.m. on Feb. 28.
See the release: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/press/2023/230112-wff-grants.htm
<br><b><i>Top headlines from the Health Care Report … </b></i>
— Hospitals in Wisconsin have seen labor costs rise by $580 million per year since 2019, while supply costs have increased by $1.6 billion annually over the same period.
And the George A. Fait Family Charitable Trust is donating $2.6 million to support medical research and care in Madison, UW Health announced.
Plus, UW-Green Bay is getting a $865,010 grant from the state to develop a new caregiver management training program.
<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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# Wisconsin solar projects get a boost after federal omnibus bill sends more than $255.7M to the state
# Luxury boat maker Grand Craft has grown since move to Wisconsin
# PTI expands into Broadway District with new offices for 150 workers
– Wisconsin Jr. Holstein hosts 2023 Junior Convention
– Associated Bank to update Whitefish Bay branch with coffee chain
– MATC open house event for contractors, subs returns for third year
– Wisconsin 4-H Foundation offering scholarships
# FOOD AND BEVERAGE
– Sweetgreen plan for Third Ward is salad chain’s third Milwaukee-area restaurant proposal
# HEALTH CARE
– Milwaukee-based Healics acquired by Pittsburgh investment company
– Chippewa County approves opioid settlement
– These large Milwaukee landlords are the most frequent evictors
# REAL ESTATE
– Uniek moves into new Greywolf industrial facility in Madison
– Brookfield builder Altius moving headquarters to Third Ward
– Metro Milwaukee home sales were down 14.5% in 2022
# SMALL BUSINESS
– The Buzz: Handsome Devil, a tattoo parlor and barbershop, opened in Appleton
– Green Bay Packers slip in attendance ranks as team misses playoffs
– Wisconsin, North Carolina governors ban popular TikTok app
– Developers face ongoing uncertainty over solar financing tool despite limited approval from PSC
# PRESS RELEASES
<i>See these and other press releases: