Paul Gores, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
|Roadside signs about job openings, like these signs in New Berlin, are increasingly common as demand for more workers increases. (Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photo)|
Wisconsin’s number of working-age men and women is decreasing at the same time the state’s youth population is shrinking, creating “an ominous picture” for the workforce and economy in the future, a new report warns.
An analysis by the Wisconsin Policy Forum of U.S. Census data shows that after peaking at 3.6 million in 2011, Wisconsin’s working-age population has dropped by 1%, or 35,000 people, including a slide over four consecutive years.
Meanwhile, the total number of state residents under age 18 — a basic source of future workers — has fallen by 45,000 since 2011, a decline of 3.4%. With the state’s birth rate at the lowest point in at least a generation, it’s a trend likely to continue, the Madison-based nonpartisan policy research organization said.
Those demographic shifts foreshadow a shortage of workers not only to fill openings as baby boomers retire, but threaten the state’s efforts to attract new business and persuade existing businesses to expand, the report asserts.
It also could result in a smaller workforce paying income and sales taxes at the very time that more support may be needed for the wave of retirees.
“While long-term jobs projections are difficult to make and could turn out to be inaccurate — due to a variety of factors such as changing technology and automation — these numbers paint an ominous picture,” the report states.