Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Manufacturing disaster in Fitzwalkerstan

As a follow-up to today's release of the "gold standard" Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), I wanted to center on Wisconsin's numbers in manufacturing. We knew that the numbers would be bad, but it's even more disturbing when you drill inside the numbers on the QCEW's handy interactive mapping function.

It's worthy to note that 2016 was the first full year that Wisconsin had under two significant Walker/WisGOP "reforms". It was our first year as a right-to-work state, and it was when a major tax cut for manufacturers was in full effect. And in that year, not only did Wisconsin lose more manufacturing jobs than any Midwestern state outside of Illinois (3,784), but the average weekly wage dropped by 4.4%. This left Wisconsin at the end of 2016 with the lowest average weekly wage in the Midwest, and between $4-$6.50 an hour behind 3 of the states it borders.

Average weekly manufacturing wage, Dec 2016
Ill. $1,376
Mich $1,299
Minn $1,261
Iowa $1,183
Ohio $1,168
Ind. $1,152
Wis. $1,108

And Scott Walker and his puppetmasters at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce have the nerve to complain about Wisconsin workers being unskilled, and that's why businesses allegedly can't find workers? Maybe you dimwits NEED TO START OFFERING A COMPETITIVE WAGE.

The worst place for this “screw the worker” mentality in the business community is in the Milwaukee Metro area, and sure enough, Milwaukee County and the 3 suburban WOW Counties all were big losers when it came to manufacturing in 2016. In fact, no other county in Wisconsin lost more manufacturing jobs than Walkershaw last year, and the rest of the metro area saw significant declines in wages.

Manufacturing, 2016
Waukesha Co. -1,132 jobs, -2.1% weekly wage
Milwaukee Co. -543 jobs, -5.1% weekly wage
Ozaukee Co. -325 jobs, -5.8% weekly wage
Washington Co. -136 jobs, -6.5% weekly wage

Let's also talk more about the tax cut. 2016 was the year when the Manufacturing and Agriculture write-off reached its full amount in Wisconsin. This tax cut, rightfully described as The Big Giveaway” by the Wisconsin Budget Project, reduced the income tax rate to “manufacturers” (and other rich people who could goose the system) down to 0.4%.

The idea was that this lower ratre was supposed to spark hiring and expansion by these businesses in Wisconsin, but with 3,784 manufacturing jobs lost in 2016 (more than we gained in 2015), and a drop in weekly manufacturing wages of 4.4% in the state, it doesn’t really seem like that Big Giveaway is working out for anyone but a connected few, is it?

Infuriatingly, Walker and the WisGOPuppets in the Legislature refuse to considering peeling back any of this tax cut, even though the cost of this Giveaway continues to climb, and getting rid of it would fill a lot of the holes that exist in this house-of-cards budget.

So now we have fewer jobs in manufacturing for 2016, the lowest wages in the region, and a 2017-19 budget that is currently on hold because tax cuts like the M&A giveaway means that there isn't enough money available to fund the many needs in the state. So let me give a shout out to Wisconsin blue-collars- maybe the reason that your job situation was struggling wasn't the Black Man in the White House, but instead it was due to the Dropout Doofus in the Governor's Mansion. How about taking some of your (rightful) frustration out on that dingbat in 2018?


  1. Wisconsin right wingers spent years telling everyone how horrible our state was for business; then they started a minor civil war against working people and the UW - one of the few places where government spending has actually helped our state.

    Oddly enough, I think people paid attention, and the negative atmosphere they created hurts us in subtle ways.

    The continuing campaign to drive down the cost of labor rather than drive up its value should provide an opening for Dems if they can articulate a vision.

    We need candidates, but those candidates need a vision and a plan to be able to make an effective argument against our current one party government.

    1. You'd think the failures would lead Dems to say "This ain't working," and recognize that paying a decent wage is a good thing for an economy. There was a Journal-Sentinel story out today where manufacturers were bitching about how they couldn't find people to fill openings, and then you read later in the article that they're offering $12-20 an hour.

      That ain't going to cut it these days, not for people with skills. And especially when you have a GOP that deinvests in anything that might make people be OK with trading less money for a better quality of life.