Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Sorry Ron Johnson, but Wisconsin's worker shortage is largely due to your own WisGOPs

I noticed this statement from one of our US Senators that popped up in a Wisconsin State Journal editorial from today titled "Ron Johnson send strong message to Trump: Wisconsin needs more workers."
Johnson, R-Oshkosh, is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which recently held a hearing to discuss bipartisan calls for more visas for temporary foreign workers.

“There’s not one manufacturing plant in Wisconsin, not one dairy farm, not one resort that can hire enough people,” Johnson told Kirstjen Nielsen, President Trump’s Homeland Security secretary, who testified before Johnson’s committee in Washington. “So that really is a pressing need.”

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, another committee member, agreed the labor shortage was dire. Tens of thousands of more visas are needed to help fill a glut of summer positions, he told Kirstjen.

“They need the folks now. They needed them a month ago,” Carper said.

“We heard literally this week from companies that they’re afraid they’re going to lose their business, because they don’t have people to come to work and do the jobs — their seasonal jobs.”
Certainly this is going to be a problem in a time of full employment in America. And one of the ways to solve that shortage and keep the economy growing is to encourage more immigration to fill positions, both in low-skilled and high-skilled areas. This concept of "growing population and growth through immigration" seems to elude President "Build the Wall", mostly due to racism, but also because he seems to have a mentality that the economy is a limited, zero-sum game where there is only so much to go around (strangely, Trump and much of today's GOP do not feel the same way about government spending and deficits).

But Ron Johnson is looking at the wrong place when he mentions the issues behind the fact that "not one manufaturing plant in Wisconsin, not one dairy farm, [adn] not one resort that can hire enough people." He shouldn't be looking at President Trump and immigration, but instead he should turn his gaze to Governor Scott Walker and his fellow Wisconsin Republicans for why they can't find enough people to work here.

A typical labor shortage happens for two reasons 1. A lack of population growth (or worse, decline), and 2. A lack of sufficient wages and supports to encourage more people to choose to work in a certain area. And these are items that Wisconsin has come up short in big-time since the Age of Fitzwalkerstan came in along with Senator Johnson with the November 2010 elections.

The recently=released Census population figures and "gold standard" Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages for the end of 2017 are illuminating for these figures. Let's start with population, where 3 states had populations between 5.0 and 5.7 million people in the 2010 Census - Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. All of these states have had solid population growth since 2010 except for one - Wisconsin.

Population growth, 2010-2017
Colorado +577,958 (+11.5%)
Minnesota +272,679 (+5.1%)
Wisconsin +105,487 (+1.9%)

Guess which one of these states has had Republicans in control of their state since 2010? Yup. Think the legislatures in Denver and St. Paul and handcuffing and tearing down their largest cities the way that WisGOP tears down Madison and Milwaukee? No, not at all, and they're emphasizing quality of life and natural beauty that attracts people to locate in those communities.

Not surprisingly, Wisconsin has also badly trailed these other 2 states in job growth over those 7 years.

Job growth, QCEW Dec 2010 - Dec 2017
Colorado +449,598 (+20.4%)
Minnesota +292,976 (+11.3$)
Wisconsin +202,554 (+7.6%)

And guess what else Wisconsin lags these states in? Paying adequate wages in its largest cities to attract workers.

Average weekly wages QCEW Dec 2010 - Dec 2017
Denver area
Denver Co, CO $1,334 (+3.7% vs Dec 2016)
Arapahoe Co, CO $1,268 (+3.4%)
Jefferson Co, CO $1,112 (+2.4%)
Adams Co., CO $ 1,075 (+5.4%)

Twin Cities
Hennepin Co., MN $1,335 (+3.0%)
Ramsey Co., MN $1,202 (+3.8%)

Waukesha Co. $1,082 (+0.8%)
Dane County, Wis $1,070 (+3.5%)
Milwaukee Co. $1,056 (+1.5%)

So yes, perhaps encouraging more visas and immigration in general can help to solve the problems of Wisconsin employers in finding enough workers to fill their positions. But what Ron Johnson and other WisGOPs won't admit is that they are also to blame, for the regressive "divide and conquer" mentality and wage-suppressing economic policies that drive talent away from Wisconsin. Instead, they choose other mid-size (blue) states like Minnesota and Colorado where they can enjoy life and get paid well.

This trend of stagnant population and wages won't change in Wisconsin until there is a change of leadership in the Capitol. That's just a fact.


  1. But Jake, when your paymasters are telling you that all jobs should be filled by uneducated, easily -led wage slaves, it's hard to suddenly turn around and make your state attractive to the young and educated. Hell, that wouldn't work even if you had millions of taxpayer dollars to waste trying it. Oh, wait....

    1. Well played. Of course, most of those Foxconn jobs are low-paying, replaceable, and at the expense of the other 95% of the State.

      Other than that, maybe it'll work....(naaahhh)

  2. Another detail to mention is that some states are investing more in their states than others. Minnesota announced 417 million in additional transportation dollars from various sources that will be added to the project list and will pay for three major projects to move forward along with another 400 million in other building projects. A successful state is generally more willing to invest more funding in projects. The current WI budget doesn't appear to allow for additional projects because of a lack of new funding and existing funds being used for other types of uses.

    1. Wait. Are you telling me that INVESTING TAX DOLLARS moght lead to a payback in jobs, economic competitiveness and a higher quality of life?

      You're bloody well right it does. And yes, it is a direct result of Walker/WISGOP giving away the state treasury to corporations and other oligarchs instead of actually doing something that might help someone else.

  3. I have no sympathy for these jerks who want can't hire anyone because they want to hire people with no rights at low wages and no benefits. Some of the smaller businesses may be on the margin but the larger industries? Suck it up buttercup. This is what most of you voted for. The fact that you didn't understand the consequences doesn't make me feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for your former workers because you took advantage of them.

    1. Well stated. Wisconsin, and especially Milwaukee, may have the worst business community in America. They are lazy, and continue to have a 20th Century mentality of trying to grab market share and profit without improving their product or payong to keep/attract talent.

      Any wonder that these mediocre businessMEN support Gov Dropout, who's never held a real job and always gears policy decisions toward "what do corporates/donors think about it?"

  4. My millennial kids have both left Wisconsin. One to Denver and the other to Minneapolis. At least I have great places to go visit while I contemplate retirement and my own escape from Fitzwalkerstan. I don't think I want to stick around if Walker wins re-election.

    1. Which is why we gotta get this guy out of here in November. If not, there will be even more of an exodus out of the state (UW has already lost a notable amount of profs to other states in recent months and years).

      If Walker is re-elected, it is very possible that Wisconsin will lose another seat in,the House in 2020 due to its stagnant growth. It's in play already.

  5. Anonymous 9:26 and 9:43--what you said.