Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wisconsin slipping in 3 major economic stats

Just a burst of economic data out today, and I want to center on one report in particular, which is the Census Bureau's annual release on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance coverage in America. I wanted to break out this report to show what happened in 2012, and how both the country and the state of Wisconsin has fared in the wake of the recession. And Wisconsin has certainly slipped in these areas in the age of Fitzwalkerstan.

The country is still stagnating in this category, and it's one of the big letdowns in what otherwise has been a steady expansion over the last 4 years. Real (inflation-adjusted) household income is 8.3% its 2007 peak in the U.S., and now sits at just over $51,000. Even in what seemed to be an increasing expansion in 2012, the Census Bureau says real household income dropped by $83.

The same trend of falling income holds in Wisconsin, as we were down $56 to $53,079 in 2012, and still are nowhere near our 2006 peak of over $58,000. While Wisconsin didn't see the disasters that other industrial states like Michigan, Indiana and Ohio had (and Ohio and Indiana are still having), we also are well behind Minnesota, whose household incomes have gone up each of the last 2 years, with a median income more than $8,000 above Wisconsin.

Median household income, 2006-2012

So this one you really can't throw on Walker, since Wisconsin's income stagnation is mostly reflective of the income stagnation in the rest of the nation. But it is worth noting how Iowa and Minnesota are rebounding while we stay flat.

The poverty rate in America stayed the same in 2012 as it was in 2011, at 15.0%, and has largely been unchanged from its 2009-2010 average of 14.8%. Wisconsin's rate was lower, at 11.4%, but that good news masks a bigger story. Wisconsin's rate was much lower in the 2 years that the state was under Doyle/Dem control, at 10.5%, but the poverty rate spiked to 13.1% in Wisconsin in Walker's first year in office, in 2011. As you can see, it was 1 of only 2 Midwestern states to see such a rise in poverty over these two years.

Poverty rate, U.S. and Midwest states

In fact, the Census Bureau says Wisconsin's 2-year average increase of 1.7% made it one of only 7 states in the nation to have a statistically significant rise in the poverty rate in the country. And with no other state in the Midwest having such a jump, including other GOP governors taking over in Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio. So it sounds like Scott Walker's brand of TeaBag austerity is a definite standout when it comes to increasing poverty in Wisconsin.

Health insurance
I've mentioned Walker health insurance plenty of times, including an analysis of just how stupid his anti-Obamacare policies are from both a fiscal and policy standpoint. But now the Census Bureau offers hard proof that more Wisconsinites are now doing without health insurance since Walker has taken office.

It doesn't look bad on the surface, as Wisconsin is still 7th-best at having its citizens with health insurance, with an uninsured rate of 9.7%. But Scotty didn't build that strong standing, as a comparison with the same stats from 2010 will show. Wisconsin has fallen from 5th to 7th in the U.S. during the Age of Fitzwalkerstan for having the lowest rate of its people be uninsured, and our neighbors to the west was one of the states that passed us.

Lowest rate of uninsured, 2010
1. Mass 5.5%
2. Haw. 7.7%
3. Ver. 9.3%
4. Maine 9.3%
5. Wis. 9.4%
6. Minn 9.7%

Lowest rate of uninsured, 2012 and 2010 change
1. Mass 4.1% (-1.4%)
2. Ver. 7.0% (-2.3%)
3. Haw. 7.7% (0.0%)
4. Conn 8.1% (-3.1%)
5. Minn 8.3% (-1.4%)
6. Maine 9.5% (+0.2%)
7. Wis. 9.7% (+0.3%)
8. Iowa 10.1% (-1.9%)

Also notice that the only two states in that 2012 list that had higher uninsured rates also elected two of the most obnoxious TeaBag governors in 2010- Walker and Maine's Paul LePage. It doesn't happen in a vacuum.

Wisconsin's slippage in having its citizens be insured really stands out when you compare our 2010-2012 increase in uninsured with the decrease that's been going on both nationwide, and in the Midwest.

Rate of uninsured, 2010 vs. 2012

And with this trend in place, and many states taking Obamacare and expanded Medicaid benefits in the coming months, I'm thinking Wisconsin won't maintain its top 10 ranking in uninsured much longer. Which means Scott Walker has taken away yet another reason that Wisconsinites could take pride in - because we are no longer a unique place that had a government who cared about its most vulnerable citizens.

So in addition to the 51,000 job Walker jobs gap, we now have numbers showing that Wisconsin's incomes have stagnated, with more people falling into poverty, and more of its citizens lacking health insurance during the Age of Fitzwalkerstan. Other than shifting funds and power to campaign contributors and other oligarchs, does anyone think "it's working" with Scott Walker.

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