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Study: Wisconsin’s migration patterns threaten workforce

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin has seen a steep decline in net migration of families with children and this could cause trouble for attempts to find replacement for older workers, according to a new report.

The Wisconsin Counties Association’s nonpartisan research arm, Forward Analytics, recently released a study raising concerns about the state’s migration patterns. The report contends that Wisconsin hasn’t enough young people to take over jobs from the baby boomers who are going to retire in the coming 10 to 15 years, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

“We’ve got to figure out how to turn that around and we’ve got to do it fairly quickly because baby boomers are nearing retirement,” said Dale Knapp, research director at Forward Analytics.

The state’s immigration of children dropped below 10,000 from 2010 to 2015. Before 2010, Wisconsin had, over a five-year period, added 40,000 children from outside the state.

Wisconsin’s birthrate has also declined to its lowest point in four decades.

Former Gov. Scott Walker started a marketing campaign last year to try to lure millennials, age 21 to 35, to the state. Wisconsin has struggled to retain younger millennials, who often prefer big cities and more entertainment.

Knapp recommends that Wisconsin instead look to families that might want to settle in the state. He says Wisconsin can offer quality schools, safe neighborhoods and recreation.

Wisconsin was successfully able to lure people in their 30s to 50s around 1990 to make up for the exodus of younger residents, many of whom were college graduates leaving the state, he said.

Knapp said the problem is that states across the country are facing an aging population and declining birthrate.

“So we have to figure out what makes us different, what makes us more attractive than Iowa, Illinois, Indiana or Minnesota. So we can attract those workers,” Knapp said. “Our long-term economy really depends on it.”

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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