The jobs are coming, the jobs are coming!
“The business community in Wisconsin is confident, upbeat, and poised for job creation,” stated Kurt Bauer, president of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
After six months of down-in-the-dumps job creation, or shall I say job destruction, that would be welcome news. But Mr. Bauer’s optimism, based on the findings of the WMC’s 2012 Economic Outlook Survey, will be more broadly shared when we have evidence of sustained job growth.
The survey, conducted in November, takes the temperature of state CEOs, and has been conducted annually since 1997.
While recent monthly state employment data, even the revised and updated figures, aren’t encouraging, 44% of the WMC’s 281 survey respondents (1,167 surveys were sent out) said they would be adding jobs in the first six months of 2012. Only 7% said they will cut jobs, and 49% will keep the status quo.
That does not indicate how much hiring will take place within individual businesses, but with 52% of the respondents forecasting good-to-moderate growth at their own companies over the next six months, it is more evidence that the economy is gradually improving.
“Gradually” would be the operative word, because we continue to fall short of the 250,000+ new jobs that must be created each month to more rapidly bring down the national unemployment rate.
That rate dipped from 9.0% to 8.6% in November, largely because many job seekers have become so discouraged that they have left the workforce.
The national December job numbers should be out this Friday and could well reflect a temporary holiday hiring surge.
As for the WMC survey, 38% of CEOs said they would be expanding in Wisconsin over the next year or two, which probably requires more patience than most job seekers possess.
And while the lingering economic slowdown is their top concern, a healthy percentage – 24% and 21%, respectively – cite high taxes and regulatory burdens as the state’s top policy issue.
Bauer also alluded to the “jobs paradox” in which the state has relatively high unemployment (7.3%), but almost half of all employers are having trouble hiring. That speaks to the skills mismatch that the state Department of Workforce Development is trying to resolve.
To nobody’s surprise, survey respondents (they are CEOs after all) said ending political instability and reforming the recall election process would improve the business climate. It was the first time they were asked that question, and it’s likely to be a talking point for Gov. Scott Walker, whether or not his opponents force a recall election.
Walker was quick to note that Wisconsin employers believe the state is heading in the right direction. He also asserted that the foundation for future success was built in 2011, and that the people who do the hiring have validated his approach.
Apparently, they expect Wisconsin’s economy to grow despite having a more pessimistic view of the national economy, as 48% predicted good-to-moderate growth in the Wisconsin economy, while only 23% anticipate the same level of growth in the national economy.
It’s good to know that CEOs believe the state is heading in the right direction, but the rest of us won’t share that view until their optimism translates into hiring.