Back in December, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker quoted a 1980s rock song and donned a pair of black sunglasses to make a point about the state of the economy. “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades,” a song by Wisconsin-based band Timbuk3, was quoted at the beginning and end of Walker’s speech.
Less than three months later, Walker again referenced the song at the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Business Day conference at Monona Terrace in Madison. And again, he stressed that the “shades” line is important because it really illustrates what’s happening with the economy in the state of Wisconsin.
Why is the economic future so bright?
National Association of Manufacturers President Jay Timmons said that Wisconsin should be optimistic. While giving credit to the governor, Timmons said Wisconsin has done a “fantastic job in setting the environment for investment and job creation.” He also said part of the optimism stemmed from the belief that taxes and regulations were going to be changing for the better.
Wisconsin’s outlook vs. the national outlook
It appears that Wisconsin is enjoying a bit more optimism concerning its economic outlook compared to that of the nation’s outlook.
MAPI, the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, releases an outlook report every quarter. The most recent MAPI report was published on Dec. 22, 2016. In that report, the organization predicted “sluggish” activity over the next four years (through and including 2020). MAPI blames many factors for its prediction including a decrease in capital investment for equipment, weakening labor productivity growth and an aging population in the workforce.
Despite the national MAPI report, Timmons said Wisconsin and many other states are set to enjoy an increase in product manufacturing. But he agreed with MAPI on the workforce issue.
Timmons noted that there are an estimated 350,000 manufacturing jobs that are going unfilled. “The reason for that is because job in modern manufacturing are very technological, they’re focused on automation, on robotics, and we just don’t have the people with the skills that can do those jobs,” he said.
Still both Gov. Walker and Timmons insist that at least Wisconsin’s manufacturing outlook is bright enough – at least in the short term – to warrant putting on those shades.