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State Business Briefs: WPS to start laying off employees in a month

MONONA - One of the state's largest health insurers plans to start laying off 450 employees at the end of March.

Wisconsin Physicians Service said it lost two major federal contracts - and as a result, 250 will lose their jobs at WPS facilities in Monona and Madison, plus another 201 people in Wausau. And if the company does not find new business to replace the federal contracts, it says even more layoffs are possible.

WPS officials said last November that up to 600 employees could be let go this year, after the company lost contracts to process Medicare claims and manage health claims for the military in 21 states. Those contracts made up 40-percent of WPS revenues in 2012.


Harley-Davidson said its fourth-quarter profit was slightly less than what Wall Street analysts expected. The Milwaukee motorcycle legend reports a net income of $70.6s million dollars from October-through-December, down from almost $106-million in the same quarter the previous year. Earnings totaled 31-cents a share, a penny less than what outside analysts from Thomson-Reuters had projected. Harley's motorcycle sales rose seven-and-a-half percent from the final quarter of 2011 - and they rose by just over six-percent for all of 2012. But the company's total revenues were down by one-and-a-half percent. Harley said it's almost finished with a major restructuring of its manufacturing operations. The move is tied to a new system which better matches motorcycle production with changing consumer demands throughout the year. The system is just about to go into effect. Reports say it has eliminated hundreds of jobs, but Harley said it has also lowered costs - and it will eventually provide better service to Harley dealers and their customers.