Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Workforce data, strategies shared with policymakers

Presenters at the 36th Family Impact Seminar included Tessa Conroy, an assistant professor in the Agricultural and Applied Economics Department at UW-Madison and an economic development specialist with UW-Extension. Presenters at the 36th Family Impact Seminar included Tessa Conroy, an assistant professor in the Agricultural and Applied Economics Department at UW-Madison and an economic development specialist with UW-Extension.

Wisconsin is experiencing a “tight” labor market in which employers are having difficulty filling jobs with qualified workers. The state’s aging labor force, low in-migration rates, and steady job growth are expected to exacerbate these challenges for employers and workers in the coming years.

Speakers at the 36th Wisconsin Family Impact Seminar shared this information and much more with policymakers at the State Capitol on January 31, 2018. The Family Impact Seminars are an initiative of the La Follette School of Public Affairs, with generous financial support from the University of Wisconsin–Madison Chancellor’s Office and Phyllis M. Northway Fund.

The seminar provided an overview of the labor market challenges in Wisconsin, including mismatches between available jobs and either workers’ skills or their location; the migration of younger workers into the state; and the rapid growth of low-skilled, low-wage jobs. It also highlighted decades of research on evidence-based, cost-effective ways to engage low-skilled adults and people with criminal histories in the labor market.

At a follow-up discussion April 4, legislators had the opportunity to continue the conversation with UW–Madison experts on labor economics and collateral consequences. Legislators in attendance discussed the attraction and retention of workers, labor market trends, and the effects of criminal justice policies on the workforce.

Since 1993, the Wisconsin Family Impact Seminars have provided objective, high-quality research on timely topics identified by state legislators. The seminars promote greater use of research evidence in policy decisions and encourage policymakers to view issues through the lens of family impact.

Briefing reports for each Family Impact Seminar, including Opportunities for Strengthening Wisconsin’s Workforce, are online along with audio and video of the seminar presentations.