Two-thirds of WMC execs say Wisconsin work ethic has declined

73 percent approve of Foxconn incentives

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:12 pm

Foxconn chairman Terry Gou has credited Wisconsin’s work ethic as one of the reasons his company chose the state for its $10 billion LCD factory, but nearly two-thirds of business executives surveyed by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce say the work ethic of Wisconsin employees has declined over the last 20 years.

Sixteen percent of the 210 C-suite level executives surveyed said the work ethic had “strongly declined” and another 49 percent said it had “somewhat declined,” according to a WMC release. The organization has not previously asked executives about their views on employee work ethic.

The same executives continued to report difficulties in finding workers. In 2014, roughly half, 53 percent, of businesses reported difficulty finding workers. By the end of 2016, that figure was up to 70 percent and climbed to 77 percent six months ago. In the latest survey, 80 percent of executives reported their businesses are having difficulty finding workers.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has dropped from 4.8 percent at the end of 2014 to 3.4 percent as of October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private sector average weekly wages have increased from $786 in 2014 to $830 so far this year, a 0.5 percent increase after adjusting for inflation. Wages have increased 2.3 percent for all manufacturing employees and 2.2 percent for production employees after adjusting for inflation.

Production workers in manufacturing have also averaged more than 41 hours per week in 2015, 2016 and through October this year. There’s only been one other year, 2011, in the last seventeen where the average number of hours topped 41 for the entire year.

The WMC survey also found broad support for Gov. Scott Walker’s recently announced $6.8 million marketing campaign aimed at attracting workers to the state with 31 percent strongly supporting it and another 50 percent somewhat supporting it. At a WMC event in Madison last month, Walker announced he would be asking lawmakers to provide funding for the campaign.

Walker also enjoys strong support from the executives with 90 percent either strongly or somewhat approving of the job he’s doing, up from 85 percent in June. The percentage strongly approving of Walker increased from 55 percent to 63 percent.

The one major change in the state since the last survey was Foxconn’s decision to locate in Mount Pleasant and the passage of a $3 billion incentive package to support the project. Nearly three-quarters of survey respondents, 73 percent, said they support the package.

Foxconn plans to create 13,000 jobs in connection with its Mount Pleasant campus and another 22,000 jobs are projected to be created at suppliers and supporting companies.

The increased demand on the state’s labor force comes at a time when 51 percent of respondents said the labor shortage is the top public policy issue facing the state, up from 45.5 percent in June.

Read more economic data reports at the BizTracker page.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

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.

No posts to display