Beaulieu spoke Tuesday at the annual Oshkosh Economic Outlook Breakfast at the Oshkosh Convention Center. The CEO of ITR Economics has been a regular visitor to the event where he interprets the latest economic data and what it means for the future. Right now, Beaulieu expects the economy to gain traction in the second of half of 2020 and stay strong throughout 2021.
“Watch out for 2022. That’s when we predict a slowdown,” he said. “It won’t be anything like what it was in 2008, but since we have been growing for so long, any contraction will definitely be felt.”
While some leading indicators recently pointed towards an economic slowdown, Beaulieu says that as long as consumers keep spending — and they are — that growth will continue. He does recommend saving money now so when the slowdown hits, businesses are in a better position to pick up property or other purchases once the economy slows down.
Beaulieu says the lack of qualified, skilled workers continues to be a big issue for companies and may pose a problem for the economy overall since it may prevent some businesses from expanding.
“There’s a few things you can do — automate or bring in workers from elsewhere,” he said. “Wisconsin is a desirable place. You have a low cost of living and plentiful jobs — you just need to get those people here.”
Beaulieu suggested going to California or New England to find workers willing to make the move to the Midwest. “The cost of living there is terrible. You need to get them here and see the low cost of living you have here,” he said.
“The data shows we are outbidding each other for talent. Another worry for businesses is that as they spend more for talent, it will eat into their profitability,” Beaulieu said. “You then have three choices: automate, raise your prices or let your profitability suffer. I really think you’ll see more and more businesses turning to automation.”