(PRESS RELEASE) WAUSAU — The Greater Wausau Chamber of Commerce will offer a comprehensivelook at the region’s economy both pre- and post-pandemic during a free virtual program to be held at noon on Thursday, February 11.

The State of the Labor Market in North Central Wisconsin program will feature presentations by Derek Heikkinen, Director of Business Operations with the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board and Mitchell Rupp, Regional Economist with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Heikkinen and Rupp will offer strategies for organizational success, talent attraction and retention and will answer questions from attendees during the program.

The North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board (NCWWDB) reports that the region’s unemployment rate spiked at 13.2% in April 2020, up from 3.8% the month prior in March 2020. That rate is currently 4.3%, falling with the 5% unemployment threshold which defines an area as at ‘full employment.’

“Pre-pandemic, north central Wisconsin was in the midst of the largest human capital shortage it had experience in decades,” said Derek Heikkinen, Director of Business Operations with the NCWWDB. “Simply put, there were not enough people to fill all of the available jobs in the region, a problem which isn’t forecasted to flatten until 2030, at the earliest.”

As businesses emerge from the pandemic and try to ramp up their operations in 2021, the need to address workforce shortages in manufacturing, healthcare, finance and insurance, transportation, wholesale trade and construction is critical because of the economic and tax impact these associated industries have on the quality of life for those living in the region.

“Talent retention, attraction and up-skilling have never been more critical to the success and vitality of our regional economy than right now.” said Heikkinen.

For more information or to register for the program, visit WausauChamber.com.