CEOs optimistic in WMC survey

Although the state has lost jobs for five consecutive months, Wisconsin CEOs are bullish about the direction the state is moving into 2012, according to a survey of members of the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC).
Ninety-four percent of the members in the survey said the state is heading in the right direction, but executives increasingly cite recalls and political instability as a business concern.
“The business community in Wisconsin is confident, upbeat and poised for job creation,” said Kurt Bauer, president and chief executive officer of the WMC, which spent almost $2 million to support Republican legislative candidates and Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign in 2010. “CEOs have seen the long list of pro-business reforms passed at the Capitol in the last year and they are brimming with optimism because of the tax cuts, regulatory reform and lawsuit reforms. But, they are increasingly alarmed by the constant recalls and political instability that compounds increased regulatory pressure from the federal government. Uncertainty inhibits job creation and the constant threat of recalls undermines not only our democracy but our economy.”
For the first time in the 15-year history of the WMC Economic Outlook Survey, CEOs said recall reform and ending political instability in the state would help improve the business climate. “That’s an alarm bell that needs to be heard,” Bauer said.
The WMC conducted the online survey of 1,167 CEOs in late November. The WMC received 281 responses.
Forty-four percent of the executives reported they would be adding jobs in the next six months, with 49 percent reporting no change and 7 percent reporting a decline. Also, 43 percent said they are having trouble hiring employees despite high unemployment, the survey found.
“Wisconsin is facing a jobs paradox,” Bauer said. “We have relatively high unemployment, but almost half of employers are having trouble hiring. We need to do a better job matching worker skills with the jobs that are available.”
Responding to the survey, Walker said, “The survey released by the state’s chamber of commerce confirms that while Wisconsin is heading in the right direction we have more to do to improve our job creation climate. The foundation for success was built in 2011 and moving forward we must continue to focus on connecting skilled workers to jobs that are currently available. The positive outlook for the future exhibited by this survey can be reinforced by continuing to provide certainty in state government policies."

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