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Taxpayer group sees "demographics shift" impacting Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. (WXPR) -- Ten years ago the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance warned of a shift in Wisconsin's demographics and the negative impact it could have on the economy.  "None of this is surprising, I guess the problem is none of us want to pay attention to it."

That's Todd Berry, President of the tax watchdog group, Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. They're out with an update on the shift, some of which is already coming true.

Berry says as Baby Boomers move out of the workforce in large numbers, working age replacements aren't going to be around. Fewer workers will mean less money coming in tax revenues.  "You've got a problem because your workforce isn't going to grow. That has economic implications, implications for government, employers, it's pretty fundamental."

Berry says the northern school districts have seen declining enrollment for many years. Overall, Wisconsin's population is expected to increase 14 percent over 30 years, but Price county's population, as one example, is expected to drop 17 percent. Only 21 of the state's 72 counties are expected to have a growing work age population. He says it's hard to create jobs if you don't have workers.

Berry says one option may be to entice older workers to stay on the job.  "We've got to become very flexible regarding the work patterns and desires of seniors so if they want to stay working a little bit we can continue to tap their knowledge and benefit from them."

Berry says schools need to maximize the number of students graduating, both in high schools and post­secondary.

The report is on the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance website.

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