Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Most Wisconsin manufacturers remain profitable and many can't find enough hired help even as coronavirus weighs heavily on the economy.
Companies that entered the pandemic in a strong position are probably going to survive. But if they were already hurting, it’s probably worse now, said Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of the business group Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.
“We have lost some companies already and we will probably lose some more,” Bauer said. “But despite the fact that businesses aren’t doing as well because of COVID-19, the second biggest issue they’re facing is finding enough good people.”
A recent survey of 150 of the group's members found that while 75% have taken a financial hit from the pandemic, only 23% expected to end the year in the red. Most expected to show some profit for 2020.
“I think manufacturing, overall, has done better than much of the economy because the companies were labeled as essential businesses nationwide and were largely able to stay operating,” Bauer said.
For decades, Wisconsin has ranked among the top manufacturing states and continues to lead the nation in some areas such as the paper industry.
In 2017, according to the most recent available figures, manufacturers employed 16.4% of the state's workforce, nearly twice the national average of 8.6% and second only to Indiana. Wisconsin has more than 9,400 manufacturers supporting 475,000 jobs.