Thursday, August 21, 2014

U.S. economic reports look good- and refute Wisconsin's "comeback"

There have been a number of indications that the U.S. macro-economy is doing rather well this Summer. Let’s start with news today about the housing market.
Americans resold their homes in July at the fastest pace in almost a year, a sign the housing market was gaining steam again after a year-long slump.

The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday existing home sales increased 2.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.15 million units.

That was above analysts' expectations and marked the fourth straight month the pace of home resales accelerated.
But not here in Wisconsin, as home sales were down year-over-year in July for the 6th time in 7 months, according to the Wisconsin Realtors Association, and 4.2% for the year.

In another economic area, manufacturing is booming as well.
Financial data firm Markit said its preliminary or "flash" U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose to 58 in August, which was its highest since April 2010, from 55.8 in July. Economists polled by Reuters expected a reading of 55.7.

A reading above 50 signals expansion in economic activity.

The output subindex jumped to 60.2 from last month's 59.7.
And considering Wisconsin has the 2nd-largest percentage of jobs in manufacturing in the country, you’d think that would translate into major job and wage growth in the state. But instead, Wisconsin has consistently been at or near the bottom in the Midwest for weekly manufacturing wages (as shown by the Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages). In addition, job growth for the first 7 months of 2014 was the worst of Scott Walker’s 4 years- with only 11,000 jobs added, it’s less than half the number the state gained in 2011- before the full effect of Act 10 and other Walker austerity measures was put in place.

Layoffs are also going down in America.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 298,000 for the week ended Aug. 16, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 300,000 last week. A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the state level data.

The four-week average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 4,750 to 300,750. But at that level, it remains consistent with solid job growth and claims are back at their pre-recession levels.
Fortunately, this is one area Wisconsin has joined in the national trend, with recent unemployment claims being lower than in recent years. But as mentioned previously, Wisconsin’s big problem has been its stagnant job market, with employers refusing to take chances, raise wages and hire people. In no small part because we have policymakers in Madison more concerned with letting corporate campaign contributors maximize profits instead of encouraging innovation, rewarding workers, and offering a high quality of life that attracts TALENT and improves productivity.

This is what makes the Walker Administration’s lame attempts at trying a “Wisconsin’s comeback” meme so disingenuous- the only reason the state’s economy is growing at all is because it’s being pulled ahead by a strong national economy. Which means, any Wisconsin “comeback” is mostly due to two simple words.


We deserve to be so much better off than we are today in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin. And if the Burke campaign and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin aren’t saying that message constantly over the next 2 ½ months, then they deserve to lose.

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