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Employers expecting slowdown in Wisconsin economy

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(The Center Square) – It’s the latest snapshot of a slowing economy in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce on Monday said less than half of businesses in the state expect to add new workers in the next six months.

“While certain sectors remain strong, we are starting to see signs that the economy is slowing,” WMC President & CEO Kurt R. Bauer said in a statement. “The effects of rising interest rates and higher prices are starting to take their toll on both businesses and workers.”

WMC’s latest Employer Survey says 49% of businesses expect their number of employees to increase in the next six months. That’s down from 68% just a year ago and 79% in the Summer 2021 survey.

The move to hire fewer people comes even as Wisconsin businesses continue to face a worker shortage.

The survey also found that 75% of businesses who were asked said they are struggling to hire, down from 85% in the last survey.

Bauer said that 10% drop “in just six months is notable.”

The slowdown in hiring also means a slowdown in wage growth.

The survey shows many businesses are scaling back on raises or higher wages for workers.

One year ago, nearly half of Wisconsin employers said they would raise wages by more than 4% The survey says that number has since dropped to just 21%.

That doesn’t mean workers will lose money, or that changing jobs will be less lucrative.

The survey says 54% of Wisconsin businesses expect to raise wages between 3% and 4% this year.

But Bauer said the slowdown in hiring and in higher wages is a warning sign.

“If employers are uncertain about the economic outlook in Wisconsin and nationally, they are less likely to hire and rapidly raise wages,” Bauer added. “And if these conditions remain — or worsen — a recession in the near future will become more and more likely.”

Overall businesses in Wisconsin are sour on the economy in both Wisconsin and nationally.

Just 39% of Wisconsin business owners say the state’s economy is strong. Less than half that number, 16%, say the U.S. economy is strong according to the survey.

The Survey says 87% of business owners in the state expect at least some growth in Wisconsin’s economy. Nearly half, 45% of those same business owners, said they expect the national economy to remain flat over the next six months. Twenty-seven percent expect the economy to shrink, while just 27% expect the national economy to grow.

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