When state officials held a construction resource fair in Racine, Wis., in late March to recruit workers for Foxconn Technology Group’s $10 billion manufacturing plant, only about 250 people showed up. It was a somewhat inauspicious beginning to a recruitment campaign that will ultimately have to find as many as 10,000 people for a job that’s well on its way to becoming the biggest construction project in state history.
Granted, not all those workers will be needed immediately. State officials have said they expect the construction of Foxconn’s 1,000-acre manufacturing campus to take between four and six years. That means there will be time to bring new recruits up to speed. Still, the relatively low turnout for the state’s construction resource fair is not the only sign that recruitment for the Foxconn project will be difficult.
Like many sorts of businesses, construction companies in Wisconsin have for years felt the pinch of a protracted labor shortage. Wisconsin’s construction-unemployment rate hit a record low for the month of November when it fell to 5.7% that month last year. Though seasonal layoffs have caused that number to climb, there are other signs that hiring remains difficult for Wisconsin contractors. In an employment report from April, the Associated General Contractors of America trades group sounded a familiar note, warning once again that the two biggest threats to growth in the industry were President Donald Trump’s new tariffs on steel and aluminum and “a lack of available, qualified workers.”
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