Worker Shortage Could Bring Back Stagflation


    I helped start an Oshkosh, Wis.-based plastics manufacturing business. It was 1979, in the midst of stagflation. Because inflation was endemic, we didn’t think much about it. Like everyone else, we simply dealt with it. Price increases were expected and accepted throughout the economy.

    Eventually President Reagan and Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker broke the inflationary cycle. Prices stabilized, and for the remainder of my 30 years in manufacturing, getting customers to agree to a price increase was like pulling teeth. Every hike had to be fully justified and robustly negotiated. Now I’m hearing from businesses across Wisconsin and the U.S. that inflationary expectations have returned, and price and wage increases are becoming routine.


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