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Foxconn might slow hiring at its Wisconsin plant

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The company cites the need to remain agile to ‘adapt to a range of factors, including global economic conditions’

Photo by Joshua Lott for The Verge

in 2017, Foxconn has said that its $10 billion manufacturing plant in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin would eventually create upwards of 13,000 jobs, lured to the state by lucrative state subsidies to reinvigorate manufacturing in the area. While the plant is still under construction, initial hiring appears to be slow, and the company says that it’s “adjusted our recruitment and hiring timeline,” due in part to global economic conditions and a tight labor market in the state.

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the company “fell short of the minimum number of jobs it was required to create in 2018 to claim state-job creation tax credits.” The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp says that the company needed to create 260 full-time jobs, but only created 178. As a result, the company won’t receive tax credits for 2018. The WSJ cites the state’s low employment rate as a factor for the slow hiring, and notes that the company could earn $19.1 million in tax credits if it passes its hiring goal of 2,080 jobs this year. The company denied reports last November that it had been looking to bring in workers from China to bolster its workforce.

On top of that, Foxconn appears to be adjusting its expectations for hiring in the near future. It tells Bloomberg that it “remains committed” to creating those promised 13,000 jobs, but that it might slow its hiring moving forward: “we need to have the agility to adapt to a range of factors, including global economic conditions.” The company and former Governor Scott Walker have been heavily criticized, both for the steep subsidies promised to the company, as well as the possibility that the company might not deliver on its promise to bring 13,000 jobs to the state.

Those economic conditions include the tightening market for Apple’s iPhones, which Foxconn manufactures in China. Apple is reportedly slowing down its own hiring following weaker-than-expected sales of the latest generation of iPhones. Apple cited weak demand in China and higher-than-expected battery replacements last year as reasons for the slowdown. Foxconn’s Wisconsin plant won’t manufacture iPhones — it will produce LCD panels instead — but the slowing global demand appears to have Foxconn on a more cautious approach.