Wisconsin Layoffs and Plant Closings Point to Bigger Concerns

Nov 5, 2015

Oscar Mayer on Wednesday announced that it will close its plant in Madison in 2017 leaving around 1,000 people unemployed. 

The news followed an announcement by Joy Global that it plans to lay off more than 100 people in the Milwaukee area starting this month, and reports of Wisconsin based Quad Graphics closing plants elsewhere in the country.

WUWM's LaToya Dennis caught up with Marquette University economics professor Abdur Chowdhury to find out what’s going on.

"We have seen some drop in manufacturing production because of the strong dollar," he says. "Let's say you are buying goods from foreign countries, then a strong dollar is a good thing. But, if you are selling your product in a foreign country, then a strong dollar would hurt you because your goods are more expensive to foreigners, so they are going to buy less."

Chowdhury explains that Joy Global has been impacted by slow growth in the United State's trading partners in Europe as well as in emerging markets.

As for Oscar Mayer is cutting jobs in Madison, he says the reason is because the company wants to move the plant to Davenport, Iowa. "This is a trend that we are seeing. Wisconsin has not been as aggressive as some of our neighboring states at attracting new business or keeping existing business," Chowdhury says. "Iowa is a good example. What they have done is with different kinds of incentives, with stronger IT infrastructure..they are able to attract more businesses."

This is something Wisconsin has not been able to do; he says, Wisconsin has not been able to diversify its economy.