Wisconsin businesses turning to older workers

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Northern Wisconsin businesses that are having trouble finding employees are hoping to lure retirees to work or keep people nearing retirement on the job longer.

Economic development experts say low unemployment rates, a lack of new workers and a growing number of people on the cusp of retirement have created a major demand for workers, Wisconsin Public Radio reported .

The unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in Barron County and a 3.4 percent in Chippewa County in December, more than 1 percent less than the rates were in December 2016, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development .

There are currently 500 job vacancies in Barron County, said Dave Armstrong, executive director of the county's Economic Development Corp.

"I've got one employer that's looking to re-engage even those that are retired, just to get the people with the experience working," Armstrong said. "I've had other employers that are trying to do everything they can to talk those that are retirement age out of retiring because they don't want to lose that expertise."

Older workers who were let go during the Great Recession will likely have a good chance at getting a job, said Charlie Walker, president of the Chippewa County Economic Development Corp. Companies also see younger workers as a potentially good investment, he said.

"I think what (employers) are always looking for is trying to see how long will someone stay with the company because turnover is important," said Walker.

Companies will likely turn to automation since it's unlikely the worker shortage will be solved any time soon, Walker said.

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