Governor Tony Evers is calling the Wisconsin Legislature together for a special session in September to address a number of challenges to the workforce, placing an extra focus on childcare. According to the United States Department of Labor, the unemployment rate in June 2023 was 2.5 percent, a full percentage point less than the national average. Paired with a higher-than-average labor participation rate, the pool of potential employees is small, which in turn is causing major headaches for those businesses looking to fill important positions. In Governor Evers’ request, he calls on the Wisconsin Legislature to specifically address the state’s childcare industry, which is expected to face major challenges when funding for the Child Care Counts program expires in January. The funding allowed providers the financial stability to stay open and to get full-staffed. The Century Foundation reported earlier this year that without the funding, more than 2,000 childcare programs could close. If parents are forced to stay home, the study projects a loss of $232 million in earnings. United Way of Door County Child Care Community Coordinator Molly Gary placed a local spin on the topic during U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s visit last week, pointing out that affordable childcare and housing are among the most important factors for people considering relocating to the area for work.
In addition to more funding for child care, Evers also calls for creating a paid family and medical leave program, investing in higher education, and strengthening key workforce sectors as a part of his special session request, which he made for September 20th at noon.