LA CROSSE, Wis. -- It's news no one wants to get right before the holidays. Ninety-eight Trane Company production employees are being laid off. But these layoffs are actually the exception rather than the norm right now in the state.
"Overall, manufacturing jobs are up for the year. We're up just about 9,000 jobs from the beginning of the year. So things are doing pretty well there," said Chief Labor Economist for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Dennis Winters.
Trane's parent company Ingersoll Rand says the layoffs are the result of a drop in demand for Trane's Centravac chiller. And that drop has to do with a halt in the construction of the kinds of buildings that use those large air conditioning systems.
"You're not seeing office buildings being built, you're not seeing malls being built, and these are the large type of structures that are being used for the exchange units that are built by Trane," said La Crosse Chamber of Commerce President Dick Granchalek.
The problem is businesses are just too scared to take the risk of building in a shaky economic climate.
"It's just the uncertainty with the entire economic condition of our country. And people are not expanding, they'e not investing back into their companies. They're holding cash.... People are waiting for the rainy day because they don't know what's going to happen," said Granchalek.
And that large-scale fear of expansion is having a ripple effect here in La Crosse.
"Let's hope this is all there are. You can't control that. None of us can control it, locally.
It's the challenge of managing it and keeping the company open and functioning, versus something that could be much, much worse," said Granchalek.
Winters says there is some good news for these employees being laid off. They have an advantage over some other people looking for work. They have a technical skill, which makes them more attractive to future employers.
A spokesperson for Ingersoll Rand says the employees being laid off could be rehired if demand for the product increases again.