Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Subpar job growth and low wages- the Walker Way

For some reason, I thought the release of the “gold standard” Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages was going to come out on Thursday, but instead it dropped this morning. And as always, digging into the interactive QCEW map website offers a lot of insight on where Wisconsin stood as of June.

Overall, Wisconsin ended up 28th in the nation for private sector job growth (and 29th overall). This marks the 24th straight quarter that Wisconsin has been in the bottom half of states for job growth – a “streak” that began right after Scott Walker’s and WisGOP’s first austerity budget being signed into law in June 2011. Amazingly, 28th in the country for private sector job growth is an improvement, as it marks the first quarter Wisconsin is out of the 30s or 40s in this category.

This pattern of “improving into mediocrity” also applies to where Wisconsin stands in comparison with the rest of our Midwestern neighbors, as we are out of our typical 5th or 6th-place status of these 7 states, and are firmly in the middle of the pack.

Private sector job growth, QCEW, Jun 2016- Jun 2017
Minn +2.0%
Mich +1.7%
Ind. +1.6%
Wis. +1.3%
Ohio +1.2%
Ill. +1.0%
Iowa +0.3%

One trend that didn’t improve to mediocrity was Wisconsin’s lousy pay to its manufacturing workers, as not only did we continue to have the lowest weekly wages in the Midwest, but that gap grew among most of the Midwest for the 12 months measured.

Average Weekly Manufacturing Wage, June 2017
Ill. $1,273
Mich $1,223
Minn $1,217
Ind. $1,127
Ohio $1,104
Iowa $1,068
Wis. $1,054

Change in weekly manufacturing wage, Jun 2016- Jun 2017
Ill. +$53
Minn +$50
Iowa +$43
Ind. +$42
Wis. +$26
Ohio +$9
Mich +$6

And even Michigan’s small gain in wages comes with a caveat, as it also added nearly 16,400 manufacturing jobs over the last 12 months, the most in the nation. It’s safe to assume many of those Michigan jobs are new hires that are lower on the wage scale. Meanwhile, Wisconsin only added 3,771 (less than half the growth that Walker’s DWD was claiming last Summer).

That trend lackluster wage growth expands to the entire private sector, where Wisconsin is down at the bottom while Minnesota was raising wages by the 4th highest amount in America (behind Washington, California, and North Dakota).

Change in weekly private sector wage, Jun 2016- Jun 2017
Minn +$46
Ind. +$32
Iowa +$28
Mich +$27
Ill. +$26
Wis. +$25 (+3.0%)
Ohio +$25 (+2.9%)

Let me remind you that Governor Walker wants to blow $7 million on an ad campaign to encourage talent to come to Wisconsin. Then In addition to the absurd theme of the proposed campaign (lower commute times and higher quality of life? From a Governor who backs policies that make all of these things worse in Wisconsin?), it seems pretty stupid to waste our tax dollars with lame PR when I can look at Minnesota topping the Midwest, and the answer to Wisconsin's problem seems obvious. PAY A COMPETITIVE SALARY and maybe more people will want to move here.

But until we do offer a competitive wage for workers, and until we remove this dimwitted Governor and his corporate cronies from power in our state, Wisconsin's ratings in the QCEW will never get better. Not that this is news to those of us with a clue, but it needs to be reiterated to the many people who don't.

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