MILWAUKEE- While the tech sector grabs all the headlines, manufacturing jobs remain the backbone of the American economy. That’s evident nowhere more so than Wisconsin.
At thirty-eight hundred members, the Wisconsin Manufacturing Association is the largest of its kind in the United States. Statistics provided by the University of Wisconsin show that as recent as 2016, manufacturing jobs made up more than 18% of Wisconsin’s GDP, ranking eight in the country in that area.
As a result of the state’s reliance on manufacturing jobs, a global pandemic, like what we are going through with COVID-19, can have an overstated impact on the local economy.
Kurt Bauer is the President of the WMA, he tells WTMJ the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are two-fold, first, what it means for international business, and second, what it means when the state is effectively shut down.
“I liken it to a string of Christmas tree lights,” Bauer tells WTMJ. “You take them off a tree at the end of the season, pack them away in the garage or the attic and when you plug them in next year and plug them in a lot of bulbs won’t light back up. We’re going to have a lot of bulbs that don’t light back up.”
Bauer’s worst fears are backed up by the state’s latest unemployment report, which showed claims increased tenfold over the previous year. Through the week ending April 3rd, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development fielded upwards of 210,000 unemployment claims.
During the month of February, manufacturing accounted for just over 484,000 jobs in Wisconsin, down from a peak of slightly more than 485,000 in December of last year.