The nation’s jobless rate fell to 5.2% in August/September and Wisconsin is at 3.9% with expectations that will continue for the balance of the 2021. Employers are in a desperate need of skilled employees especially with technical and engineering degrees! However, employers are looking for individuals for ALL manufacturing positions. In many cases companies have to decline and turn away orders without enough employees to produce the products and services. We are still seeing the effects of COVID19 especially with female employees who are staying at home in record numbers. Jobless individuals who are fearful of COVID-19 health are slower to return to the labor market until the virus abates regardless of any of the government assistance programs. We see a large percentage of employees seeking new careers or starting up their own businesses! We will see more employers REQUIRE masks and SHOTS being mandated as a prerequisite of employment. We will see a number of people insist to continue working from home with some slowly coming back for 2-3 days as required by companies. The biggest issue to affect the economy is the government wanting to increase the debt limit and without approval, it will have a MAJOR impact on the economy depending on the outcome! Finally, we are seeing a breakdown on the supply chain or long delays receiving parts, material, etc. and it is expected to get worse for the next 6 months with long lead times especially in the paper supply chain.
WISCONSIN ECONOMIC OVERVIEW
The Wisconsin economy overall has done well in spite of COVID19! The 5P Industries and Converting Industries in Wisconsin have been very strong over the past 2 years and we expect it to continue. The Paper companies, Corrugated Box Manufacturers, the Flexible Packaging and the Converting Companies are backlogged with orders and longer and longer lead times. It has become very difficult to get paper! We do have weaknesses in the Commercial, Publication and the Direct Mail printing. We saw a major decline of 19% in 2020 of ALL offset printing. However, the balance of 2021 is coming back slowly and the first quarter of 2022 should see a good rebound for the balance of 2022 depending on the availability of paper. The Wisconsin Printing Industry had close to 40,000 employees at its peak with expected employment estimated at 32,000 for 2022. GBIG is gathering more and more data on the number of employees in the other 5P Industries plus converting. The number of timber professionals has been in long-decline estimated 15 years ago at 120,000. Today, including foresters, loggers and haulers the industry employs about 64,000 said Henry Schienebeck Executive Director of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association.
The good news, we are seeing substantial investments of companies in Wisconsin to meet the demands for the packaging industries with new innovative sustainable and recycled products and we will see more and more of it. We are seeing a definite movement to use Paper Products and reduce plastic. Obviously, the key issue is asked, can the Paper and Pulp industry handle it! Wisconsin has very limited capacity to produce pulp and we are still experiencing issues with our Canada and International suppliers due to COVID19 and transportation issues. Wisconsin has abundance of trees and without pulp mills; we are dependent on companies outside the United States. Wisconsin has to re-invest in the paper and pulp industries….more good news coming!
Green Bay Innovation Group