Wisconsin Weekly: WI’s aging workforce threatens economic vitality — but solutions exist

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WI’s age crunch; Foxconn mum on developments; lead exposure and violence linked; secrecy surrounds lawmaker misdeeds; drug screening delayed; storm damage persists 


Of note: This week we draw your attention to a story laying out the economic consequences of Wisconsin’s aging population as fewer people of working age are available to support retirees. As of 2017, Wisconsin had nearly 1 million people age 65 or older, while demand for workers continues to grow and remains unfulfilled. Some of the solutions include more flexible and part-time work, lowering barriers for teen-age workers and people with criminal records, and boosting the state’s population through recruitment and immigration.

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Wisconsin’s aging workforce threatens the state’s economic vitality, but there are solutions available

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — October 17, 2019

For many years, Wisconsin’s demographic trends have pointed to an impending storm on the horizon: a population of seniors that was projected to grow rapidly with almost no increase in working-age residents — the people who are critical to a state’s productivity and ability to fill and create jobs. A recent report by the Wisconsin Policy Forum shows these projections have started to become reality, signaling challenges ahead for the state’s workforce and economy.

Rich Kremer / WPR

An empty, unfinished, office space is the site for a planned Foxconn innovation center at Haymarket Landing in downtown Eau Claire. In July 2018 Foxconn officials and former Gov. Scott Walker announced the company would create 150 jobs in the city.

Foxconn innovation centers on hold across the state

Wisconsin Public Radio — October 23, 2019

Not long after Foxconn Technology Group announced plans to build a massive manufacturing facility in southeast Wisconsin with billions in taxpayer incentives, the tech giant began making promises to share its model for economic development across the entire state. But 18 months after purchasing its first building in downtown Milwaukee, there is little evidence that what Foxconn calls its innovation centers are moving forward. The Wisconsin State Journal found a similar lack of progress in Madison. Previously from Wisconsin Watch: Owners near Foxconn say they were misled; now their homes are gone.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

A low lead faucet is seen at a Madison middle school on April 5, 2017 after being replaced.

Study links childhood lead exposure to later gun violence

Wisconsin Public Radio — October 21, 2019

For the first time, a study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee links a child’s exposure to lead to later gun violence. By connecting the two, there is an even greater urgency placed on the city of Milwaukee to tackle childhood lead exposure, researchers said. Researchers found that as childhood blood lead levels increased, the risk for becoming a perpetrator or victim of gun violence increased, even after controlling for temporal trends, gender, race and neighborhood socioeconomic status. Previously from Wisconsin Watch: ‘Regulatory vacuum’ exposes Wisconsin children to lead in drinking water at schools, day care centers

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

The Wisconsin Capitol building is seen during a press conference at The Park Hotel in Madison, Wis., on Oct. 2, 2019.

Wisconsin Legislature says you can’t see secret records about lawmaker behavior

FOX6 Milwaukee — October 20, 2019

The issue isn’t new; the Legislature made headlines a few times over the last two years for refusing to turn over records about harassment investigations. Since then, the courts have continued to rule that public agencies should release investigative records; the Legislature has continued to refuse. The FOX6 Investigators asked for the Legislature’s investigations into state lawmaker behavior. Instead of getting the records, FOX6 got a letter denying the request. Read the second part of the series: State lawmakers use loophole to delete public records, but SB 11 could change that

Steve Apps / Wisconsin State Journal

Gov. Tony Evers takes questions after signing the budget July 3 at the Capitol in Madison.

Wisconsin has yet to implement drug screening requirements for certain FoodShare recipients

The Cap Times — October 23, 2019

Wisconsin officials faced an Oct. 1 deadline to put in place drug screening requirements for certain FoodShare recipients. But three weeks later, the state Department of Health Services has yet to implement them. It’s not uncommon for agencies to delay the implementation of certain changes. But DHS also has yet to submit a report or any updates to the Legislature’s budget committee on its plan to put in place the drug screening, testing and treatment requirements for certain non-disabled adults without children that are participating in the FoodShare Employment and Training program. Previously from Wisconsin Watch: Wisconsin to force parents to work for FoodShare, despite doubts about effectiveness

It could take 10 years for Wisconsin to recover from the violent July wind storm that wrecked northern forests

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — October 23, 2019

When dawn came July 20, residents of northern Wisconsin counties found a changed land: hundreds of thousands of trees leveled or twisted by 100-mph winds. But future generations may well hear about the 2019 derecho, the powerful storm that swept across northern Wisconsin at dusk one summer night, jack-hammering forests with massive downdrafts known as macrobursts. Their devastation remains topic No. 1 across Oconto and Langlade counties. As repairs and cleanups continue three months later, officials who manage federal, state and county forests still labor to grasp the extent of damage.

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