Harley may zoom out of Milwaukee

The Harley-Davidson sign at the company's plant in York, Pa.

TEXT OF STORY

STACEY VANEK-SMITH: President Obama is in Milwaukee today to talk about the U.S. economy. But, of course, like politics all economics are local. In Milwaukee, residents are worried about local company Harley-Davidson. The motorcycle giant says it's leaving town if it can't drive down labor costs.

From WUWM in Milwaukee, LaToya Dennis has more.


LaToya Dennis: After spending more than a year in the red, Harley-Davidson finally returned to profitability last quarter. But Harley is still looking to reduce its manufacturing costs by more than $50 million. So it's counting on union members to take concessions.

Brian Jacobsen is an economics professor at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

Brian Jacobsen: Most of the profitability came from their financing unit, and not necessarily from building and selling their bikes. They need to find a way to make better profit margins off of their core operations.

Last year, workers at a Harley plant in Pennsylvania agreed to reduce its workforce by 1,000 people.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett expects to lose manufacturing jobs here as well.

Mayor Tom Barrett: This is not a situation where I think that we can go through this unscathed in terms of the impact on workers. The question is, at the end of the day, will there be enough jobs and will there be enough family supporting jobs? And I certainly hope there will be.

Harley-Davidson will make a decision on whether to relocate by mid September.

In Milwaukee, I'm LaToya Dennis for Marketplace.

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