Number of execs that see Wisconsin on the right track drops in WMC survey

Outlook for good growth declines as well

Economic indicators

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:07 am

A large majority of business executives surveyed by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce still rate the Wisconsin economy strong or very strong, but the number that say the state is on the right track dropped by more than 20 percentage points from June.

Economic indicators

The organization’s December survey polled 203 business leaders in the state. The number of respondents who said the Wisconsin economy was strong or very strong increased to 84 percent, up from 80 percent in June.

But the percentage that said Wisconsin is on the right track went from 89 to 68 percent and the number expecting Wisconsin’s economy to see good growth declined from 21 to 14 percent.

Whether the more pessimistic views are a product of Gov.-elect Tony Evers’ victory over Gov. Scott Walker or broader economic issues is not immediately clear from the survey. WMC did not include questions about the approval of the current or incoming governor.

The survey did ask about tariffs implemented by the Trump administration. Half of respondents said the tariffs had no effect on their business, but 37 percent said the measures had a negative effect.

A report by a group calling itself Tariffs Hurt the Heartland released last week found Wisconsin companies have paid $139 million in additional tariffs this year.

Hiring plans for business declined slightly with 55 percent expecting to hire in the next six-months, compared to 60 percent in June.

The percentage who said they could not find enough workers declined to 74 percent, down from 76 percent in June and 80 percent last year.

Kurt Bauer, president and chief executive officer of WMC, said it might be a positive sign that fewer businesses are having trouble finding workers, but it could also be an early indicator the economy is slowing or companies have stopped looking out of frustration.

The survey also found 72 percent of business executives support immigration reform to allow more foreign workers of all skill workers to work legally in the U.S.

Read more economic data reports at the BizTracker page.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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