The Employ Milwaukee Workforce Development location at 2342 North 27th St., Milwaukee: As far as employment, Milwaukee has not yet fully recovered from the impact of the pandemic.
Milwaukee’s economy took a hit during pandemic, recovery has been slow

Mike Gousha and John D. Johnson

In the darkest days of the coronavirus pandemic, uncertainty ruled the day for Wisconsin businesses and workers.  Even as vaccines were becoming widely available in the spring of last year, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Secretary Missy Hughes worried about the fate of the state’s many small businesses, especially those with fewer than 20 employees.

“We’re potentially looking at losing 20 to 30 percent of these small businesses,” she warned during a virtual event with Marquette University Law School in March of 2021.

Today, it appears that worst-case scenario didn’t materialize. In a recent interview with us, Hughes cited several encouraging signs, including a 42% increase in new businesses formed during the pandemic.  A torrent of state and federal aid — WEDC alone gave grants of $600 million to small businesses — combined with the grit and creativity of  owners and workers averted an economic catastrophe.  While the virus remains a concern, the greatest challenges facing most businesses right now are workforce shortages and inflation.


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