FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 20, 2014 –  New report shows Central Wisconsin dislocated mill workers fared remarkably well

Stevens Point, WI – A new report entitled “Serving Dislocated Workers from the Port Edwards Paper Mill: A Return on Investment Study” was released today by the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board (NCWWDB). The report was commissioned by the Workforce Board with support from Incourage Community Foundation. A worker survey and survey data analysis was conducted and a final report written by the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service (WIPPS). Due to decreasing demand for paper and rising global competition in paper manufacturing, the Domtar Paper Mill in Port Edwards was closed in 2008, dislocating over 500 workers. Almost immediately, the Dislocated Worker Program set up a transition center at the mill and began offering career counseling, job search assistance, re-training, and other support services. Many workers took advantage of these services; others did not. Five years later, the study was commissioned to determine the long-term impacts on these workers, whether or not public investment  in worker re-training affected outcomes, and to what extent former mill workers were satisfied with their current life situation. A survey developed by WIPPS was sent to the 516 former Port Edwards mill employees in late 2013. In total, 209 usable surveys were returned – representing a remarkable response rate of 40.5%. A multivariate analysis of the survey data was also completed by WIPPS. Some results include: Selected research sample demographics of former workers:

  • Average age: 54.4 years
  • Average length of time spent working at the mill: 21.9 years
  • Percent now living within 15 miles of the former mill: 80%

Selected key findings:

  • Over 90% of former workers under age 63 found new employment
  • The average employed respondent’s new income was 91.1% of previous mill income
  • Workforce training programs were particularly effective for lower skilled mill workers seeking re-employment
  • Age had a significant impact on economic outcomes
  • Willingness to commute longer distances improved economic outcomes
  • Attitudes of respondents remained generally positive despite the major upheaval in their lives

Eric Giordano, WIPPS Executive Director and report author stated, “The level of reemployment income is particularly striking because of the relatively high wages of mill workers in comparison to average wages in the labor shed, and that the dislocation happened during the depth of the great recession.” “Change, of course, was not easy” said Rene Daniels, Executive Director of North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board. “But, the report highlights the fact that those workers who participated in retraining were more likely to become re-employed, earn higher wages, and be more optimistic about the future.  We hope the report serves as evidence that programs like the Dislocated Worker Program can truly make a difference in individual lives and on communities as a whole”. Incourage Community Foundation, which helped support the WIPPS study and report, is planning a September event with former mill workers and community leaders to discuss the results of the survey and identify the most effective practices for any future dislocations. This report will be issued to legislators, other policy makers, as well as community leaders and impacted dislocated workers. The full report can be downloaded here .


The North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board is a public/private partnership which administers and coordinates Workforce Investment Act (WIA) employment and training programs for Adults, Youth and Dislocated Workers in the North Central Wisconsin Counties of Adams, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Oneida, Portage, Vilas, and Wood. The Board contracts with the Labor Education Training Center (LETC) to deliver dislocated worker services in the region. Visit NCWWDB’s website at:  

NEWS RELEASE CONTACT: Judy Winkler  •  Communications Coordinator North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board 3118 Post Road, Suite A •  Stevens Point, WI  54481 Phone:  715-204-1646  •  Email:



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