Economy & Business

Business news

Wisconsin Historical Society

Our Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted series this week is exploring the realities and myths of the "skills gap," the apparent mismatch between unemployed workers and existing jobs.

While Wisconsin continues shaking off the recession, thousands of workers still don’t have jobs. Yet businesses, particularly manufacturers, report having a difficult time filling certain positions. Several people actively addressing the problem defined it from their perspective.

Historic Photo Collection / Milwaukee Public Library

Many people are looking for work, while at the same time some employers say they can’t find skilled applicants to fill jobs. We’re reporting on the “skills gap” this week in our series, Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted.

The disconnect between jobs and workers is a relatively new phenomenon in Milwaukee. During the city’s manufacturing heyday, from the late 1800s until the 1970s, there were thousands of jobs in the Menomonee Valley alone – and a steady stream of workers to fill them.

Series Preview

Oct 26, 2012

There’s been increasing talk lately about the “skills gap” – the phenomenon of employers unable to find skilled workers. WUWM examines the issue in the series Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted.

The stories will air all next week on Morning Edition, Lake Effect and All Things Considered. WUWM also will host a community forum at MATC on Tuesday Oct. 30. We’ll ask expert panelists and audience members to talk about the role government, educators and other groups have, in connecting workers and jobs.

Over the past 15 years, the number of black and Hispanic businesses in Milwaukee has doubled. However, only 10,000 of the more than 112,000 companies in metro Milwaukee are minority-owned.

Visitors flocked to State Fair Park Thursday, where the annual fair began its 11-day run. Farmers from every county in Wisconsin are showing their livestock, in hopes of winning the Blue Ribbon. WUWM’s Marti Mikkelson found that one subject weighing heavily on many cattle owners’ minds is water.

Justin Claus

There has been some good news recently regarding the status of returning military veterans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 vets nationwide dipped below 10 percent in June. That is a substantial drop from June of last year, when the rate topped 13 percent. While the trend is positive, more young veterans are out of work than the general population. WUWM’s Erin Toner profiles a Racine man who suspects his military disability status frightens employers.

Caterpillar
Mark Sardella, Flickr

Workers at the Caterpillar factory in South Milwaukee are closely watching a labor dispute at the company plant in Illinois. Caterpillar employees in Joliet have been on strike for three months. The company is seeking steep wage and pension concessions, and the union representing nearly 800 workers refuses to accept the demands. WUWM’s Erin Toner reports on speculation that the outcome of the dispute could be a bellwether for labor relations across the country.

It's been a little more than a month since Wisconsin's historic gubernatorial recall election. And while the state’s political rhetoric has finally begun to die down, even if the partisanship hasn't, national politics are just heating up. The country is still processing the landmark Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature health care reform law, although Governor Scott Walker has said he will not implement any health care changes until after the November election.

Farmers in southeastern Wisconsin are wondering just how bad this growing season will be – or what might be salvageable. The drought in southern Wisconsin last week intensified from moderate to severe. WUWM’s LaToya Dennis visited Rob -N-Cin’s Farm in West Bend.The family-owned farm tends around 400 dairy cows and raises crops - alfalfa, corn, soybeans and winter wheat. Son Rick Roden fears this season could be devastating.

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