Month: July 2019

Capitol One Response to Data Breach

Capital One Financial Corporation announced that on July 19, 2019, it determined there was unauthorized access by an outside individual who obtained certain types of personal information relating to people who had applied for its credit card products and to Capital One credit card customers.

Capital One immediately fixed the configuration vulnerability that this individual exploited and promptly began working with federal law enforcement. The FBI has arrested the person responsible. Based on our analysis to date, we believe it is unlikely that the information was used for fraud or disseminated by this individual. However, we will continue to investigate.

Based on our analysis to date, this event affected approximately 100 million individuals in the United States and approximately 6 million in Canada.

Importantly, no credit card account numbers or log-in credentials were compromised and over 99 percent of Social Security numbers were not compromised.

The largest category of information accessed was information on consumers and small businesses as of the time they applied for one of our credit card products from 2005 through early 2019. This information included personal information Capital One routinely collects at the time it receives credit card applications, including names, addresses, zip codes/postal codes, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and self-reported income.

Beyond the credit card application data, the individual also obtained portions of credit card customer data, including:

  • Customer status data, e.g., credit scores, credit limits, balances, payment history, contact information
  • Fragments of transaction data from a total of 23 days during 2016, 2017 and 2018

No bank account numbers or Social Security numbers were compromised, other than:

  • About 140,000 Social Security numbers of our credit card customers
  • About 80,000 linked bank account numbers of our secured credit card customers

We will notify affected individuals through a variety of channels. We will make free credit monitoring and identity protection available to everyone affected.


Wisconsin will not hold Sales Tax Holiday for Back-to -School Shoppers

Since back to school shopping can get pretty expensive, Wisconsin held its first tax free holiday for shoppers in early August last year. During that time, shoppers could buy select clothing, technology, and other supplies without paying the 5% sales tax.

The Tax Free Weekend was also beneficial for a lot of stores in the state.

“It helps all the retailers when we have the tax free because they would buy the bigger stuff. If you had a students going back to college they would buy things like furniture, desks and that kind of stuff,” said Meijer Store Manager Don Mettler.

But Democratic Governor Tony Evers has confirmed that the state will no longer participate in the event this year. He said it was a one time deal enacted under the former Republican Governor Scott Walker.

“I think parents are going to be purchasing school supplies whether they have an incentive or not. I just don’t think the incentive actually worked,” said Evers.

16 states will hold a sales tax holiday this year, which is down from a peak of 19 in 2010.

Governor Announces Task Force on Payroll Fraud and Worker Misclassification Appointments

On Friday, Governor Evers announced several appointments to the Task Force on Payroll Fraud and Worker Misclassification. The Task Force will coordinate worker misclassification matters handled by the Departments of Revenue, Department of Workforce Development, Department of Justice, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and other agencies.

The task force will report to the governor on or before March of each year on their activities. Misclassification occurs when an employer improperly classifies a worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee, denying the worker legal protections and benefits.

The task force will be staffed by the Department of Workforce Development and DWD Secretary-designee Caleb Frostman will serve as chair. Members of the task force announced by Governor Evers are:

• Attorney General or designee: Michael Morris
• DOR Secretary or designee: Maria Guerra Lapacek
• OCI Secretary or designee: Andrew Stoughton
• DWD Worker’s Compensation Division: Steve Peters
• DWD Unemployment Insurance Division: Mark Reihl
• DWD Equal Rights Division: Jesus Villa
• Workers Representative: Andy Buck
• Business Community Representative: Pete Braun
• Senate Majority Caucus: Sen. Dale Kooyenga
• Senate Minority Caucus: Sen. Dave Hansen
• Assembly Majority Caucus: Vacant
• Assembly Minority Caucus: Rep. Chris Sinicki
• Public Member: Cynthia Buchko
• Public Member: Steuart Wilson
• Public Member: Jerry Shea
• Public Member: Gary Rockweiler
• Public Member: Tim DeMinter



Wisconsin GDP Grew 2.9% in First Quarter

Wisconsin’s real gross domestic product grew at a 2.9% annualized rate in the first quarter, the 24th fastest growth rate in the country, according to new data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The first quarter growth rate was an improvement from 2.1% in the fourth quarter but down from 4.9% in the first quarter last year. For all of 2018, Wisconsin’s economy grew 2.5%, the best year of growth for the state since 2010.

Within the Midwest, North (3.9%) and South Dakota (3.6%) had the strongest growth followed by Ohio (3.5%) and Nebraska (3.4%). Illinois and Indiana grew at the same 2.9% rate as Wisconsin.

The retail trade and finance and insurance segments were the strongest contributors to Wisconsin’s economic growth, accounting for 0.76 and 0.74 percentage points respectively. Nondurable goods manufacturing added 0.51 percentage points and health care and social assistance added 0.41.

Wholesale trade was the biggest drag on Wisconsin’s GDP, cutting 0.14 percentage points. Durable goods manufacturing, transportation and warehousing and accommodation and food service also all cut into the state’s growth.

‘Positive Outlook’ for Wisconsin’s Credit Rating After Two-Year Budget Approved

Wisconsin’s credit rating remains healthy less than a month after the state’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget passed.

Kroll Bond Rating Agency recently assigned the state a rating of AA+ with a positive outlook. S&P Global gave Wisconsin a AA rating for its 2019 general obligation bonds by financial analysis group S&P Global Ratings. And Moody’s maintained the state’s Aa1 rating, also with a stable outlook.

S&P Global Ratings looks at five categories to create its overall state rating, including the state’s economy, management, liability, budget performance and government framework, according to Carol Spain, director of U.S. public finance of S&P.

Spain said Wisconsin’s pension system, one of the best funded in the country, in particular helps to offer flexibility and padding for the state’s budget and reserve balances.

State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski said that she is “glad that Wisconsin’s bond rating continues to remain strong and steady.”

“Ratings impact … bonds prices in the market,” Spain said. “The higher the rating, the lower the interest cost.”

U.S. Truck Driver Shortage on Course to Double in a Decade

The U.S. trucker shortage is expected to more than double over the next decade as the industry struggles to replace aging drivers and recruit more women.

The driver deficit swelled by more than 10,000 to 60,800 in 2018 from a year earlier, according to a study by the American Trucking Association.

The relief won’t last as replacing an aging pool of drivers gets harder in a tight labor market, said Bob Costello, chief economist for the trade group. The shortage is most acute for long-haul drivers, where the average age is 46, and workers are on the road for weeks at a time.

The ATA estimates that 160,000 driver positions will go unfilled in a decade.

“If things do not change, that’s where we will end up,” he said. “At some point, you go from being an operational pain-in-the-neck for the supply chain to real issues for all of us as consumers.”

In addition to increasing pay, trucking companies are trying to recruit more women, young people and former military personnel. Women make up less than 7% of drivers, and the industry is pushing to entice more with technology that makes trucks easier to drive and more comfortable.

The Arlington, Virginia-based ATA also wants regulators to lower the age for commercial drivers who can cross state lines by three years to 18. Its proposal would increase training and supervision. Cutting the age increases the recruiting pool and enables people to drive straight out of high school instead of choosing another industry, such as construction, Costello said.

State Will See Decrease in Worker’s Compensation Premiums for Fourth Consecutive Year

On July 10, 2019, the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance approved an overall 8.84% rate decrease for worker’s compensation premiums for businesses, effective October 1, 2019.

This is the fourth consecutive year in which worker’s compensation rates have declined in Wisconsin, following a 6.03% decrease in 2018, an 8.46% decrease in 2017, and a 3.19% decrease in 2016. The latest reduction in premiums is expected to result in an annual savings of about $173 million for Wisconsin employers.

“Wisconsin has long been regarded as a national model for its smart, effective worker’s compensation program, and our state’s proactive approach to occupational safety and risk reduction is key to the program’s success,” Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary-designee Caleb Frostman said. “Workplace safety takes strong partnerships between employers, workers, training providers and other stakeholders, and in Wisconsin, we are fortunate to have so many entities working cooperatively on this front.”

Worker’s compensation rates are adjusted annually by a committee from the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau (WCRB). The committee analyzes and submits a rate recommendation to the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) for final approval. While the overall rate will decrease by 8.84%, the impact will vary based on type of work performed.

“I am pleased to see another significant decrease in Worker’s Compensation rates going into 2020,” Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance Mark Afable said. “The frequency of workplace injuries has been trending downward, which is a major driver of the rate reductions. This is definitely good news for Wisconsin businesses and workers.”


Wisconsin Wage Growth, Labor Force Participation Slowing in 2019

Wisconsin’s economic data demonstrates plenty of reasons to be optimistic. The state last year posted its best year of GDP growth since 2010, unemployment has regularly been at or below 3%, and the number of people working has been at or near record levels.

Wisconsin’s economy, however, tends to follow the trend of the national economy, which is now in its longest expansion on record. So is the state exceeding its growth expectations given the national environment, or are the record numbers the result of riding the country’s coattails?

The answer depends on the metric in question.

One area where Wisconsin has diverged from national trends is in labor force participation. Employers point to the state’s low unemployment rate as a reason for slower job growth, but Kurt Rankin, an economist and vice president with the PNC Financial Services Group, said the low rate is being sustained by labor force declines.

Since reaching its most recent peak of 68.5% in mid-2017, Wisconsin’s seasonally adjusted labor force participation rate has fallen 1.2 percentage points to 67.3% in May. The shift equates to more than 24,000 people leaving the state’s workforce.

An aging workforce and retiring baby boomers would seem to explain the decline, but Rankin said that is not the case nationally.

“Unless Wisconsin is bucking the national trend, which I doubt … older workers, by and large, are choosing to remain in the workforce,” he said.


State Senators ask DOT to Fund Local Roads Despite Governor’s Veto

State Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and nine Republican Senators sent a letter to Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary-Designee Craig Thompson to encourage him to spend the $75 million in the State Budget that was meant to fund local road improvement on – local roads – as they intended.

“The Senate Republicans worked hard to create a local road funding package for the state budget that would have a strong, meaningful, immediate impact on our local roads,” Marklein said. “Our constituents told us that this is one of their top priorities and we responded with a thoughtful, strong investment.”

“We started with $133 million for local roads, which was then compromised to $90 million to be divided among the towns, counties, cities and villages for local road maintenance and repair. This is what the legislature passed in our budget.”

“Unfortunately, Governor Tony Evers shaved $15 million off of these dollars and further vetoed all of the language to direct the funding to local roads. We have been concerned that the DOT will not spend the remaining $75 million on local roads. The letter we sent today clarifies the legislative intent of our votes on the state budget and encourages the DOT to follow-through with this strong investment to fix our local roads.”

“People throughout the state told us that they want their roads fixed. The legislature answered this call with a big investment that would send the money to projects that will matter to the people we serve. We have asked the DOT to honor this commitment and follow-through. We are optimistic that they will.”

Governor Evers will lead Trade Mission to Japan in September

Governor Tony Evers will lead a trade mission to Japan from Sept. 6-14 as part of the state’s efforts to expand exports by Wisconsin companies. This will be the first trade mission of his new administration.

“This mission provides an excellent opportunity to establish the personal relationships that are so important to doing business in Japan,” Governor Evers said. “Japan is Wisconsin’s sixth-highest export destination, and our exports continue to grow. In just the first quarter of this year, exports from our state to Japan rose by 11% over the same period last year.”

The mission will be coordinated by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the state’s lead economic development organization. The trip will include visits to Tokyo, Yokohama and Chiba City. Governor Evers will also attend the Midwest U.S.-Japan Conference.

Wisconsin exported $734.3 million worth of goods to Japan in 2018. Top Wisconsin exports to Japan include industrial machinery, which grew 44% alone in the first quarter of this year; medical and scientific instruments; electrical machinery; and prepared meat and seafood products.

The registration deadline is July 26. To learn more or register, please visit japan19.