St. Viator is taking a cautious approach to its scheduled Week 1 football game on Friday, August 27.

So much so, that the Lions have canceled their scheduled game with St. Joseph Academy of Kenosha, Wis.

It wasn’t that either school has had a COVID outbreak. It is because St. Joseph Academy is located in Wisconsin.

St. Viator athletic director Jason Kuffel said that Illinois Department of Public health guidelines say that limiting travel to greatly affected areas of the country is prudent.

“By adhering to the Illinois Department of Health current guidelines, we decided not to travel to Wisconsin to participate in that game,” Kuffel said. “We want to keep our community and our school as safe as possible so we can maintain in-person learning again this year.”

IDPH Sports Safety Guidelines regarding teams traveling out of state say: “IDPH recommends that before traveling for sports activities, teams review the most recent data on county-level transmission across Illinois or in other states. If playing outside of Illinois, teams should avoid travel to areas of higher risk as recommended in the IDPH Travel Guidance.”

Suburban Cook County issued a travel advisory to Wisconsin on August 11. Vaccinated persons would not have to quarantine. Those unvaccinated would have to take a viral test 1-3 days before traveling and then get a viral test 3-5 days after traveling as well as quarantine for a full seven days.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health website, 47.3 percent of Kenosha’s eligible population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. That is far below Illinois’ 75.2 percent that was reported Thursday by the IDPH.

“That is part of our whole analysis,” Kuffel said “We are taking everything into account. We have to look at the whole picture. It is not an easy decision.”

Kuffel said the athletic department and coaching staff at St. Joseph Academy were very understanding.

“St. Joseph has been absolutely tremendous in their partnership with us,” Kuffel said. “We have been open and transparent with them. We want to continue our relationship with one another. They are not going to hold us to the contract, and we are working to help them find a game.”

Illinois High School Association assistant executive director Sam Knox, who administers football for the state, said St. Viator would not be charged with a forfeit loss if it can’t find a replacement game.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

Kuffel said he and head coach and assistant athletic director Dave Archibald told the team Wednesday about the decision to cancel the game.

“I know that coach Archibald talked to the captains, and they are staying positive,” Kuffel said. “While they are disappointed, they understand that certain decisions have to be made in order for our community to stay protected.”

Kuffel said that St. Viator is looking to find another opponent for Week 1.

“We are

LA CROSSE, Wis., June 29 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden promoted his $1.2 trillion infrastructure package as a “generational investment” on Tuesday as he sought to pump up support for a plan that is in need of wide support in Congress to become reality.

Biden visited a public transit facility in La Crosse, a city in western Wisconsin, highlighting the plan’s investment of some $48.5 billion in public transit to reduce commute times and help reduce emissions, while boosting economic growth and wages.

In a speech, he spoke about local gains from the deal, including funds for electric buses, replacement of some 80,000 lead water lines in Milwaukee and better access to high-speed internet.

The bipartisan package also includes $109 billion in funding for roads, bridges and other major projects, including the 1,000 bridges rated structurally deficient in Wisconsin.

“This is a generational investment to modernize our infrastructure, creating millions of good-paying jobs, and position America to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st century,” said Biden.

He also noted that the plan will not hike tax on gasoline or raise taxes on Americans earning under $400,000 a year.

Vowing the plan would create jobs for middle-class people, Biden said: “This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America.”

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the bipartisan infrastructure deal in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Biden is attempting to keep up the momentum for a legislative proposal that Democratic congressional leaders believe will reach a critical stage in the second half of July.

“I expect the last two weeks of July to be very busy weeks, when we will deal with the president’s proposals,” the No. 2 House Democrat, Steny Hoyer, told reporters on Tuesday.

House and Senate Democrats hope to have infrastructure legislation done and on its way to Biden’s desk by the end of September, a Democratic aide said.

Senate Democrats are aiming to pass bipartisan legislation and send it to the House, before breaking for an August recess.

Biden, under massive pressure from Republicans, on Saturday withdrew a threat to not sign the bipartisan bill unless it was accompanied by a separate package focused on what he calls “human infrastructure,” including expanded home care for the elderly and disabled.

Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that the White House had been in touch with Democratic leaders about the two measures but Biden had not spoken about the issue with U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who wants Democrats in Congress to abandon their plan to link the two measures.

With the Senate divided 50-50 between the two parties, a move by McConnell against the bipartisan bill could cost it the 60 votes it would need to pass under Senate rules. Democrats aim to pass the companion measure through a process called reconciliation that requires a simple majority.

Psaki said Biden’s trip to Wisconsin was intended to convince Americans about

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Wisconsin added a total of 9,300 nonfarm jobs in April, including 8,200 in the private sector and the state’s unemployment and labor force participation rates both increased slightly, according to data released by the Department of Workforce Development on Thursday.

The job growth puts the state 267,300 jobs ahead of where it was in April 2020, the first month of job data to show the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to March 2020, the state is still down 121,500 jobs.

At the same time, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 3.8% in March to 3.9% in April.

The unemployment rate and the job growth figures come from two separate surveys done by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The former is from a survey of households while the latter comes from a survey of businesses.

The household survey also showed a slight increase in Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate, which came in at 65.9%, up 0.2 percentage points from March. It is the same labor force participation rate as March 2020.

The rate dipped as low as 65.5% in June of last year and largely stayed there through January. It has slowly increased since the start of the year.

Longer term, the labor force participation rate has been trending down. The most recent peak in its annual average was at 68.1% in 2016, since then it has dropped each year. In 2019, the state averaged a participation rate of 66.8%.

The return of some workers to the labor force comes as many businesses have been lamenting their inability to find workers. Many have attributed those challenges to federal stimulus and enhanced unemployment benefits. Others have countered that workers are hesitant to return to jobs amid the pandemic or that employers need to pay more.

Wisconsin Republicans introduced legislation this week to end the additional $300 in weekly unemployment benefits offered by the federal government and voted to reinstate a work search requirement for those receiving unemployment.

April’s job data shows a mixed picture in terms of which industries are adding jobs. Construction had one of the best months, adding 2,900 jobs compared to March. Leisure and hospitality added 3,800, but remains around 42,500 jobs behind its pre-pandemic level.

Employment in most other industries, including manufacturing, trade, transportation, information financial activities, business services and health and education was essentially flat in April.

Across the private sector in Wisconsin, the average hourly wage was $27.83 in March. Data for April is not available yet. For the first quarter, wages averaged a 2.4% year-over-year increase.

The construction sector, in particular, has seen strong wage gains, averaging an increase of 8.8% in the first quarter and coming in at $34.21 in March.

Manufacturing wages were down year-over-year for each of the first three months of the year, averaging a 0.7% decrease for the quarter.

Average hourly wages for production workers, however, have increased slightly, about 8 cents or 0.35% on average for the first quarter. Total weekly hours for production workers were

GREEN BAY – Wisconsin’s $22 billion tourism industry is hurting for help after thousands of its workers found other jobs when the coronavirus pandemic shut down leisure and business travel.

Hotels, recreation centers, resorts, restaurants, entertainment venues and other businesses have put the ‘help wanted’ signs out for housekeepers, chefs, wait staff, front desk clerks, office managers and sales staff more people prepare to travel as the coronavirus vaccines roll out.

Without enough workers, tourism-related businesses could have to turn down bookings and reservations, stunting their recovery.

“It’s been brutal,” said Bill Elliott, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association. “It’s literally putting hotels in a position of having to cut sales off because they can’t clean all the rooms they need to the following day. It’s really a weird time.”

Hotels, recreation centers, resorts, restaurants, entertainment venues and other hospitality businesses bore the brunt of the pandemic last year. Air travel ground to a halt, restaurant sales plummeted, conventions canceled and hotels saw occupancy fall off a cliff. 

“A lot of times, people will say ‘You’re probably making up for losses you experienced,” said Brad Toll, president and CEO of the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Really, there isn’t any making it up. What’s lost in February and March is lost. All we can do is hope May and June are better.”

Housekeeper, Melba Causey uses an Electrostatic sprayer to disinfect surfaces at Hotel Northland, Friday, April 30, 2021, Green Bay, Wis. Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Leisure travel is already reviving, but Wisconsin’s hotels and hospitality businesses find themselves missing thousands of workers who used to cook, clean, serve, and guide the 113 million tourists and business travelers who visited Wisconsin in 2019. Employment in Wisconsin’s accommodation and food service business is down an estimated 36,000 employees since March 2020, about 15% of the sector’s pre-pandemic workforce, according to Department of Workforce Development labor market data. 

RELATED:Wisconsin saw less severe job loss during the pandemic than neighboring states, a report shows

Industry leaders suggested that people might not be interested in available jobs because of the extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits, but DWD and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows the unemployment rate in February and March was 3.8%, only slightly higher than the pre-pandemic rate of 3.2%, a difference of less than 20,000 people who are unemployed compared to March 2020.  

Wisconsin tourism and hospitality businesses cut hours and staff to survive the downturn. Now, as hotel occupancy and average daily room rates begin to rise again, it’s clear those workers won’t be coming back, said Bill Elliott, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association. 

“As other industries picked up and opened, we lost some of our workers to those jobs,” Elliott said. “They wanted to be working. It’s been a struggle. We’ve never really seen this before.”

Hotels, restaurants, event spaces, tourist attractions and industry groups are planning a flurry of efforts to find staff however they can. Hotels and attractions tend to fill up with leisure travelers on weekends, though the slow return of business travel means weekdays are

Wisconsin saw less job loss during the pandemic than neighboring states, according to a Thursday report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

Wisconsin’s total jobs dropped 5.2% from September 2019 to September 2020, according to the nonpartisan research association, while the national percentage was 6.8%. Among neighboring states, Iowa trailed Wisconsin closely at 5.3%, while Minnesota (7.4%), Illinois (7.8%), and Michigan (7.9%) fared worse than the U.S. average.

Mark Sommerhauser, the policy forum’s communications director and policy researcher, said the report was prompted by a feeling that the pandemic’s effect was different regionally across the country.

Wisconsin fared better than neighboring states across 10 major industry sectors tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ quarterly employment and wage reports.

Industries known to have been hit hardest by the pandemic — arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodations, food services, personal care services and certain retail store sectors — accounted for 41% of jobs lost through Sept. 30 in the state. The policy forum noted that employment in these sectors made up only 17% of the state’s total employment as of March 2020, and that share declined to about 12% in April 2020.

Wisconsin’s leisure and hospitality industry employment declined less steeply, down 19%, than in neighboring states, down 24% — which was also the national average.

“As bad and as significant as that decline was here in Wisconsin, we see the example in many other places where it was significantly worse,” Sommerhauser said.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum found that Wisconsin lost a smaller percentage jobs across ten industry super-sectors compared to its neighboring states.

Wisconsin lost more than 26,000 manufacturing jobs year-over-year through September — down 5.5%, compared to 6.8% in neighboring states.

The leisure and hospitality and manufacturing sectors accounted for more than half the state’s job losses, the policy forum noted, and that affected which of Wisconsin’s counties had the most job losses.

The policy forum noted that Wisconsin had recovered about 74% of the jobs it lost from March to April 2020, putting it on a faster recovery pace than the national average of 57%.

Contact Nusaiba Mizan at (920)-431-8310 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @nusaiblah.

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