UPS to hire 1,200 seasonal workers near MKE; biz leaders say labor shortage will extend through holidays

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- As local companies start hiring for seasonal workers to help during the holidays, statewide business leaders say the labor shortage may affect their ability to find the employees they need.

UPS is looking to hire 100,000 seasonal employees nationwide. The company is looking for 1,200 workers in the Milwaukee area alone. UPS Oak Creek Business Manager Ryan Zenoni is preparing for the most wonderful time of year, which is also his busiest.

"Our package volume doubles basically, and depending on if you're on the naughty or nice list, we'll see how busy we get here. But the real Santa is the folks the men and women that work here at UPS," Zenoni said.

He's already seeing more packages going in and out of his facility in Oak Creek. He said that volume will continue to increase this year and won't stop until January.

Locally, UPS is hiring drivers, driver helpers, part-time package handlers and personal vehicle drivers. The wage range is from $17 to $32 an hour, depending on the job. Zenoni said a third of seasonal employees will stay past the season.

"You may come for a job but stay for career," he said. "I can tell you I started in this time. I've been with UPS for 20 years."

Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, said there hasn't been a better time to find a job since World World II. However, many industries, such as retail and hospitality, will face difficulties hiring for the holidays.

"We will definitely have a worker shortage going into the holiday season in Wisconsin and beyond," Bauer said.

He said Wisconsin traditionally has a high labor participation rate compared to other states, but it has dropped during the pandemic. The state has only seen a slight uptick in people applying for jobs since federal unemployment benefits ended.

"We know that there are people on the sidelines, and right now's a great time for people to get off the sidelines. There are a lot of career opportunities available where they can get good jobs at good pay with good benefits and opportunities for merit advancement," Bauer said.

Bauer said the workforce shortage existed before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic exacerbated the issue. The state doesn't have enough people to fill the open positions.

"It's a demographic issue in the state of Wisconsin. We haven't been at replacement birth rates since the 1990s, so if you do the math, that's going to hit you right about now," he said. "We just don't have enough Gen Xers or Millennials to replace the retiring Baby Boomers."

Zenoni said UPS is staying competitive and he's not worried about the labor shortage affecting his ability to hire employees. 

"If you're a college student, you can come here and work for three months and get $1300 for your school, and gain extra money too," Zenoni said.

He said in some cases, people may receive a job offer in 30 minutes. Anyone interested can go to upsjobs.com to apply.


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