Sunday, December 27, 2015

Slow population growth shows another way Wisconsin is suffering

I would like to thank fellow Tosa East graduate Todd Milewski for drawing my attention to the recent Census Bureau projections of population change. This report came out late last week, and Milewski notes that Wisconsin's population growth slowed down last year to rates that were less than half of what we were getting 10 years ago.
In a report released this week, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Wisconsin's population as 5,771,337 as of July 1, 2015, an increase of 11,905 over the 2014 estimate.

The yearly growth rate fell to 0.21 percent in 2015; it was 0.27 a year earlier and 0.58 percent in 2005.

During the 2010s, Wisconsin has averaged an annual growth rate of 0.3 percent over the official decennial census population figure, a notable decline from earlier decades. In the 2000s, the annual growth rate was 0.6 percent, and it was 0.96 percent in the 1990s.
Milewski's Capital Times article also includes this chart, which shows the downward trend of the state's population growth in the last 10 years.
This drove me to look into the actual Census report to go inside the numbers a bit more, and a couple of items stand out. First of all, you can see why Scott Walker and WisGOP constantly tries to talk about Illinois when discussing Wisconsin's economic and demographic statistics, and not anywhere else in the Midwest. Because much like with job growth, The Census Bureau says Wisconsin lagged many other Midwest states when it came to population growth in the last year.       

Population growth number, July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015
Minn +32,469
Ind. +21,800
Ohio +16,425
Iowa +14,418
Wis. +11,905
Mich +6,270
Ill. -22,194

 Population growth percentage, July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015
U.S. +0.79%
Minn +0.59%
Iowa +0.46%
Ind. +0.33%
Wis. +0.21%
Ohio +0.14%
Mich +0.06%
Ill. -0.17%

You can't help but notice Minnesota topping that list while we linger in mediocrity. And it doesn't take much of a stretch to connect these two stats together when you look at the net migration numbers, which Wisconsin also does not fare well in. All Midwestern states had more people moving out to other states vs people moving in from other states, but Wisconsin had more than most. I'll also include the net migration figure as a percentage of the 2014 population, since logically places with more people living in it would be likely to have more people moving out.

 Net domestic migration, 7-1-2014 to 7-1-2015
 Iowa -3,949 (-0.13%)
 Minn -12,242 (-0.22%)
 Ind. -14,881 (-0.23%)
 Wis. -15,568 (-0.27%)
 Ohio -31,297 (-0.27%)
 Mich -38,911 (-0.39%)
 Ill. -105,217 (-0.82%)

In fact, Illinois' huge out-migration likely masks Wisconsin bad record in this statistic, since Wisconsin likely grabs more FIBs than residents they lose to Illinois. So this should concern policy-makers, as people leaving town is obviously going to limit Wisconsin's ability to grow. But Scott Walker and the WisGOPs in the Legislature seem to have no interest in changing this trend, and in fact, are likely adding to it, because of their policies of low pay, defunding education, and regressive social legislation.

This Census Bureau report from last week is yet more evidence to me that the state is going in the wrong direction, and that there must be a change in leadership to stop the bleeding. Demographics matter, and Wisconsin is increasingly on the wrong side of them.


  1. Jake, I appreciate your blog and read it all the time and have come to agree with a lot of the things you right. I think you are better than using FIBs in your article to describing people from Illinois. My family moved to wisconsin when I was 9 and I was called that all the time by my classmates, who didn't even realize what it meant, that is how hate is spread.

    1. I was born a FIB (moves to Wisconsin at age 4) and both my father's and mother's families have plenty of members still in Illinois. Unlike the average meathead in Wisconsin, I use "FIB" as shorthand, and as a way to mock the type of dope who uses the word seriously and out of resentment.

      Sorry it triggered bad memories for you, but consider yourself fortunate- like my family, your folks made the right move were young. Not sure it's still the right move today (although Illinois is quite the train wreck these days)

  2. I have two examples. Close friends, both great teachers, pulled plug and moved to MN to teach. One of them with less duties took a $20K raise. My child is graduating college next year in engineering and only state he isn't looking at for work is WI. The dummies are not the ones leaving WI. As for FIBs, get over it, all in fun, no hate that I know of. We like you guys, but do roll our eyes to to aggressive driving habits.

  3. Just found out that a PH.D. candidate ( which he will obtain ) as of this June is seriously considering other universities because of the uncertainty created by Walker. What a monster.

  4. Thanks for the examples. The State Journal front-page story today was about UW Faculty and Staff being poached by other states that value education. Maybe we should give them the higher pay and incentives, and not the state's mediocre CEOs (aka WMC Board members) who seem to create nothing except more inequality.