Saturday, November 18, 2017

UW merger may be on, but it's still not being done right

Now that the merger of the UW System's 2-year campuses with several of its 4-year campuses has been approved by the UW Board of Regents, the hard work of implementing the change will happen over the coming months and years. Faculty and staff were largely locked out of that merger decision, and that is something that former Regent and Assembly Speaker Tom Loftus contrasted with what was done 30 years ago.

In an open letter to UW System President Ray Cross, Loftus describes a listening tour that he and then-Gov Tommy Thompson took to discuss the best way to sort out some of the issues that remained from the prior merger of UW-Madison with the Wisconsin State System. Loftus says those listening sessions (which actually involved listening to and dealing with the public, unlike the hand-picked charade of friendly audiences that our current Governor does) led to new ideas and better solutions.
The result was that we came back to the Assembly and put forward a series of proposals that represented a distillation of what we had learned. And, we learned a lot. The proposals we put forward were quite different than what we thought we would do before our listening marathon.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, “there was more in heaven and earth than thought of in our philosophy.”

We sold the package to the Republicans and the Democrats; and the Governor; and Madison and the four year campuses; and, the faculty and students. What passed was a consensus that still governs much of how the System operates today…

I ask you to take back the role of speaking to the public, after you listen to your constituents.

As an early and public advocate of yours it pained me to see the actions that lead to a faculty vote of no-confidence in your leadership. Use the listening tour to show that they were heard and you came to town to listen.
If you read between the lines of Loftus letter, you can tell that he’s dismayed at the top-down and secretive manner in which Cross and the Walker-stacked Board of Regents are trying to pull off this merger. And that such a method of decision-making will doom the merger to not working out as well as it should.

But that's the suboptimal way Cross and the rest of the pro-Walker crew at the Board of Regents do things. Let me direct you to an excellent column from former UW professors William Holahan and Charles Kroncke that starts off with good news. UW-Milwaukee just recently joined UW-Madison as an “R-1” top-tier research institution, and that UWM produces a sizable amount of Wisconsin’s highly-educated work force, as 80% of its graduates stay in Wisconsin. Holahan and Kroncke also note that Milwaukee’s business community frequently relies on UWM innovation and research to improve their products and service delivery.

But despite UW-Milwaukee gaining prestige and value for the state, 7 years of budget cuts and anti-intellectual mentality from Governor Dropout and his lackeys in the Legislature and the Board of Regents is taking its toll. The professors note that talented academics are leaving UWM and going to places where their talents will be better appreciated.
Since 2010, the number of tenured and tenure-track professors in the physics department is down 24% (from 26 to 19). The story is the same in biological science—from 38 down to 26. The economics department has lost 26 % of its faculty; educational psychology 48%; history 27%. One measure of the quality lost is to look at where they have all gone: UCLA, Minnesota, Tufts, Texas A&M, North Carolina, Ohio State and Duke. Not a single program has been immune. All university stakeholders—students, parents, donors, business collaborators, alumni—should be alarmed.
Holahan and Kroncke also point to the arrogant mentality in how Walker and his hand-picked Regents administer the state’s 4-year schools, and how these right-wing “business-oriented” people have no clue about the product that comes out of academia, or how that product is made.
In most instances, the regents are successful members of the Wisconsin business and legal communities. They are far more likely to be attuned to the nuances of business organizations than to those of academic institutions. Authority in most business organizations tends to be top-down, with those at the top taking risks with their own time and money, thereby earning the right to direct employees.

Accordingly, the regents have a hard time understanding why faculty cannot be managed by university administrators. They envision faculty as “employees” and “subordinates” to administrators—even though most of those “bosses” have no understanding of what those faculty do in their research or in the classroom. The reason is that, in universities, professors normally know far more about their work than administrators. Consequently, the true job of a university administrator is to facilitate the work of the faculty, not try to lead it.

Moreover, evaluation of faculty research work relies on “peer review”—the rigorous process conducted by scholars throughout the world qualified to judge the research output of university professors. The top-down authoritarian business model being implemented at the UW system will disrupt this natural relationship between faculty, administration and the international community of scholars.

Disruption can be great for society, especially when new products or processes are introduced into the marketplace to supplant less efficient ones, but this new alternative “business” model will not advance teaching or research at the university, rather it will retard growth and stifle creativity and innovation—the very life blood of our economy and economic wellbeing [-the] essence of the contribution that the university makes to society.

And then we wonder why this state continues to stagnate and have talent flee under the ALEC crew? These mediocre corporate front men and women either do not know or do not care that they are strangling the success of the UW System, and damaging the state’s economic competitiveness as a result.

Just a thought, but when it comes to higher education we should listen less to Wisconsin’s failing, regressive business community and more to the faculty and students that are still succeeding at the UW despite the ALEC crew’s attempts to mess it up. But that’ll only come with new leadership at the top, starting in the Governor’s office, and trickling down to the Board of Regents and the Legislature.

Friday, November 17, 2017

October jobs look good in Wisconsin, but previous "gains" haven't held

Yesterday had the release of another Wisconsin jobs report, this time for October 2017. And no matter how you look at it, this one went pretty well.
Place of work data: Based on preliminary data, Wisconsin gained a significant 10,500 total non-farm, 9,500 private sector jobs and 3,400 manufacturing jobs from September to October 2017. The state also added a significant 42,400 total non-farm jobs and 39,400 private-sector jobs from October 2016 to October 2017, with a significant year-over-year gain of 13,000 manufacturing jobs. The number of total non-farm and private-sector jobs in Wisconsin reached all-time highs, according to the preliminary numbers.
It’s a nice bounce back from some bad months in the Spring and Summer, and September’s jobs were also revised up by 3,600 total and 1,200 in the private sector.

As for the state’s unemployment rate, that had good news as well, down by 0.1% to 3.4% (OK, 3.41% vs 3.46%) after a few months of rises. And unlike the national decline in unemployment, it wasn’t due to people leaving the workforce, as household employment was up 2,300 (with revisions) while the labor force only went up by 900.

Among sectors, leading the way was 4,300 seasonally-adjusted jobs in “Business and Professional Services”, and as Walker’s DWD mentioned above, 3,400 were added in manufacturing. However, I’d be skeptical of that gain in manufacturing jobs holding, and not just because these one-month figures are quite volatile.

The real reason is because the October jobs report also included the pre-release of the figures for the “gold standard” Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages for the 2nd Quarter of 2017. And if you look at those numbers, you see that manufacturing jobs are not quite undergoing the boom that Walker’s DWD is claiming to happen.

Manufacturing jobs, June 2016-June 2017
Reported by DWD +8,300
Reported in QCEW +3,771

And it’s not the first time that manufacturing jobs have been overstated in Wisconsin. As UW-Madison’s Menzie Chinn notes in Econbrowser, this also happened in each of the previous 2 years.

But still, 3,771 jobs gained in manufacturing is better than LOSING nearly 4,000, like we did in 2016. What’s less good is that total wages in the QCEW for Q2 2017 in manufacturing were only up 3.1% overall from the same quarter a year ago, which comes to less than 2.3% per person – not much above the rate of inflation for that time period.

Also interesting in the pre-release for the QCEW is that it took a significant a pickup in hiring in June to save the state from being below 1% job growth for that 12-month period.

Private jobs added, June 2017 vs June 2016 QCEW
June 2016 +34,002
June 2017 +41,849

Much of that June pickup came from manufacturing (+9,450 in 2017 vs +7,550 in 2016) and Leisure and Hospitality (+16,300 in 2017 vs +11,900 in 2016). Now maybe that hiring up was a sign of good things to come, and that the good October figures reflect new strength in Wisconsin's job market. But it could also just be a seasonal blip that we see go back down as the snow starts flying.

For now, let’s allow the Walker people to shoot their mouths off about what is a very good October report. The lack of wage growth that still appears in the QCEW illustrates the underlying problem with Wisconsin's economy un the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, even more than our still-substandard job growth. And with prevailing wage being repealed on construction projects along with a discouraging of start-ups from a Wisconsin GOP that prefers to pay back their campaign contributors, I wouldn’t count on wages getting better any time soon.

GOP tax "reform" likely to mess up economy, even if you pay less

With both houses of Congress trying to jam through competing tax proposals this week, it seems to be a good time to take a step back and see what these proposed changes might mean, and what other effects might crop up as a result. And to help with this question, I found a nifty tool in a CBS Marketwatch article- the Trump tax calculator.

I plugged in the situation for my family, and it looks like we would pay $350 less in taxes under the Senate bill than the House one, because of the way the mix in tax brackets works (we end up in the 22% marginal tax bracket for the Senate bill, but 25% under the House one). But more notably, this calculator says that under either plan it is better for us not to itemize, and take the newly doubled standard deduction instead. Going with the standard deduction would save us over $3,100 under the Senate bill, and around $930 under the House bill.

In other words, all of the state income taxes, property taxes and mortgage interest that we would pay next year would GIVE US NOTHING when it comes to a tax write-off. Neither would our charitable donations. If switching to the standard deduction becomes incentivized for many other Americans under this tax “reform”, significant ripple effects that would follow.

1. It makes owning a house a less worthwhile investment, because there are no tax advantages from it. This would obviously lower demand for buying a home vs renting, and would likely depress housing prices. Interestingly, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin went off on the GOP’s tax reform package two months ago, and said it would depress home prices. Soglin's complaint at the time was that State and Local Taxes (SALT) and mortgage interest deductions would go away, but even if SALT and mortgage interest were to stay in these bills (they mostly do in the House bill, while the Senate gets rid of SALT), my wife and I would STILL not take advantage of them because of the larger standard deduction, and I'm sure many others would be in the same spot.

2. Charities would hate it if individuals could not write off their donations, and you’d likely see a loss of services and employment in the non-profit sector as a result, since there would be less funds going in.

Then again, the ALEC/Koch model wants to have everybody beholden to a handful of connected, for-profit companies to get the services they need, so maybe that’s the intelligence of the GOP’s design.

These guys don't have to worry if they benefit from the GOP's plans

3. It also makes incentivizes states to shift more of their tax burden onto sales taxes (which have no write-offs in Wisconsin today), and away from income or property taxes. The Wisconsin GOP has already hinted that they would go in this direction if Congress were to get rid of SALT or make it less likely to be used by Wisconsin taxpayers. So if this garbage bill passes Congress and this state is stupid enough to return the GOP to power, get ready for 7-8% sales taxes.

We already know that the lower and middle classes pay more in Wisconsin taxes under the present system, but raising sales taxes and lowering property/income taxes would put even more of a burden onto those who are already paying a higher percentage of their income in state and local taxes.

In addition, as it stands right now the GOP tax plan gets rid of “above the line” deductions for items such as student loan interest, tuition for higher education, expenses that teachers pay for supplies, and contributions to an Health Savings Account or self-employed health-insurance plan (lines 23-35 on form 1040, if you want to give it a look).

Why does that matter for state taxes? Because it raises the person’s adjusted gross income, which means there IS MORE INCOME FOR THE STATE TO TAX. In other words, it would be an automatic TAX HIKE at the state level, a fact that Scott Walker failed to mention in the column he "wrote" this week approving of the GOP’s tax-cutting plan.

Now I’ll have to go look at our taxes from last year to see how it measures up, and whether we would pay more or less next year under these tax plans. But I do have little doubt we would pay more when the individual tax rates go back up in 8 years, as they would under the Senate bill (a budget trick designed to allow it to be passed with 50 votes in the Senate).

And I’m only talking about the tax side of the equation in this post. Obviously, the GOP’s plans to deform Obamacare and use spiraling deficits as an excuse to cut Medicare and Social Security are extra levels of toxic waste on top of these Piece of Shit tax “reform” bills.

Let’s not have that happen. Let’s put that Piece of Shit away, and deal with the real problems in our economy- stagnant wages and crippling inequality. Both items will be made even worse by the trickle-down absurdity that permeates this tax “deform” effort, and the inevitable bursting of both the stock and housing bubbles that would come soon after this bill would be signed would set this country’s economy even further back.

For many, we’ve already slid far enough over the last 40 years of this supply-side nonsense. Any more could be deadly.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Real wages still slipping, you tired of all the winning yet?

With the middle of the month hitting us, it was time to release the US Consumer Price Index Report. That CPI report showed that we had relatively tame inflation last month after a notable increase in September.
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 0.1 percent in October on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 2.0 percent.
Also noteworthy is that the real wages report came out at the same time as the inflation report, as it usually does, since CPI gives the second part of information that is required to complete that statistic (the first comes from average hourly wage info in the monthly jobs report).

And even with very little inflation, the 1-cent-an-hour drop in average hourly wages in the October jobs report meant that American workers fell behind last month.
Real average hourly earnings for all employees decreased 0.1 percent from September to October,seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This result stems from no change in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.1-percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). Real average weekly earnings decreased 0.1 percent over the month due to the decrease in real average hourly earnings combined with no change in the average workweek.
Widening it out for the last year, the real wages report shows that nothing’s really changed on the wage front, except that inflation is a little higher now than it was a year ago, so the minor wage increase workers may be seeing isn’t going as far.

12 month change
Oct 2016
Avg hourly earnings +2.7%
Real avg hourly earnings +1.1%

Oct 2017
Avg hourly earnings +2.4%
Real avg hourly earnings +0.4%

And the recent trend isn’t going the right way either, as real average hourly wages have declined for each of the last 3 months.

Real avg hourly wages, Aug-Oct 2017
Aug 2017 -0.3%
Sept 2017 -0.1%
Oct 2017 -0.1%

That’s the first time we’ve been going the wrong way in this stat since the end of 2016 and January 2017, when real wage growth was at 0% or less for 5 out of 6 months. That stagnation is apparently what led blue-collar whites to say they wanted to see change under Donald Trump (if you believe what they tell reporters in those many “rural white guy in the Midwest” stories). So how do you think they feel with wages declining again in late 2017?

An even bigger concern for me is that the October 2017 CPI report had gasoline declining by -2.4% after a post-hurricane spike in September, and real wages still went down. We know that gas prices have gone back up in the next month, so that would seem to indicate CPI should be higher again for November, and that means wages have to go up higher next month, or else we have a 4th straight month of declining wages.

And tell me what is going to change under GOP control in either DC or Madison that would turn these real wages back up? Absolutely nothing, and in fact these guys want to keep workers desperate enough that wages do NOT go up for their corporate contributors. Our economy will not hit the next level until people actually see a benefit from their work to allow them to consume more without going into debt, and the recent decline in real wages is an ominous sign.

How can GOP make tax bill even worse? Just add ACA deform!

Well, it's been a wild last 36 hours or so for the Trump/Ryan tax bill in Congress. There were odd developments involving the tax part of the bill, and whether they can even legally pass the bill as it stands today. And so to pass the bill, GOP budgeteers decided to resurrect another failed idea - messing up Obamacare.

The real reason the Republicans are putting all of these bad ideas together in one gigantic Piece of Shit Bill seems to derive from one central problem - THE NUMBERS DON’T ADD UP OTHERWISE. Note that a lot of these “combine ACA deform with tax deform” ideas came out yesterday, which was one day after the Congressional Budget Office sent a letter to the Number 3 Dem in the House that said the GOP tax plan would result in significant budget cuts.
In a letter to House minority whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the CBO explained that without any more money to offset the fall in revenue, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would be required to issue a “sequestration order” to reduce spending in 2018 by $136 billion.

The effects of this sequestration order would trigger automatic cuts to various programs, including Medicare. According to the CBO, this could be as much as 4% for Medicare, which amounts to $25 billion in 2018. Furthermore, all non-exempt programs would be eliminated, which include some farming subsidies, border security, and student loan help. Others, like Social Security, would remain untouched.
In fact, the letter says that there is only $85-$90 billion that is in the part of the budget that could be sequestered, and $111 billion outside of Medicare would have to be cut. The $25 billion in Medicare cuts is likely radioactive to begin with, but that letter also more laws and appropriations would have to be changed in order to make the tax cuts pass legal muster.

Well that, or the Trump Administration could try to ignore the laws of either America or economics. Good luck with that one, guys.

So if the tax bill is able to stay within the $1.5 trillion budget outline and then stabilize after 10 years, then those automatic spending cuts for Medicare and other areas won’t apply. So where does the GOP look for “savings”? No silly, not the military (the House just added $97 billion to Trump’s already-high budget request for this year). Instead, the GOP is choosing hurt low-income people who don’t donate to their campaigns by giving another try at TAKING THEIR HEALTH CARE.
Repealing the individual mandate has been up for consideration for weeks, but the discussion had been happening mostly behind the scenes as Republicans debated using an estimated $338 billion in savings to cover the cost of and finance additional tax cuts over the next decade.
And where would those savings come from? Because fewer people would be insured through Obamacare, while those who would still have insurance would pay more. What a deal!
Roughly 4 million fewer people would be covered in the first year the repeal would take effect, the Congressional Budget Office said last week, rising to 13 million by 2027, as compared to current law.

Premiums would also rise by about 10% in most years of the decade, CBO said.
And speaking of health care, have I mentioned that the CHIP health program that gives coverage to 9 million American children has been out of commission for a month and a half? If that program and its spending is not restored in some fashion, then those sizable costs will be shifted to the states, or children won’t receive medical services because the states will use a lack of funds as the excuse to cut those programs.

So tell me how our economy will improve if you’re pulling health care for millions of Americans and forcing a higher proportion of those individuals’ limited amounts of disposable income into health care as opposed to other areas? Then at the same time, Republicans want to add even more tax cuts for the rich and corporate, who will have even more incentive to underpay workers in order to maximize profits.

And add in the fact that this bill would be inflicted on an economy that has 70% of it based on everyday consumer spending, and combine it with a country that has huge amounts of Boomers retiring every day, and I see no way that leads to any sort of sustainable growth in the coming years. This means our 8-year expansion would likely end in the near future with another burst Bubble and bad recession.

If you ever were foolish enough to think that Republicans actually gave a fuck about anyone but their oligarch donors, the fact that they’d even consider going ahead with this destructive tax/health care Piece of Shit Bill that NO ONE ELSE WANTS should put that to rest.

Oh wait! It looks like some Republicans are getting a fit of conscience and want this Piece of Shit improved. Including.... Ron Johnson????

Ahh, that makes more sense. (mo)Ron doesn't like this bill not because it's a Piece of Shit, but because his father-in-law's company won't get as much of a handout as corporations will. Meh, any port in a storm, I guess.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Even WEDC knows the Fox-con won't make its money back

Hidden in the news in light of the recent signing of Wisconsin’s contract with Foxconn to build a mega-campus in Racine County is the fact that even the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is having concerns with the deal. That was revealed as part of a release of WEDC’s staff review of the deal.

Wispolitics posted the report on its website, and summarized some of WEDC’s concerns with the deal, which ultimately was agreed to by the WEDC Board and signed by Governor Walker on Friday.
The state jobs agency pointed to the state’s break-even point under the Foxconn deal as one of the agreement’s “weaknesses,” according to the staff review board members approved last week.

Estimates from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, as well as separate analyses from Ernst and Young, Baker Tilly and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. found it would take some 20 or 25 years before the boost in tax revenues and the jobs the project would create would exceed the state’s $3 billion investment…

The other weaknesses WEDC identified include: the potential for the project’s start date to be impacted by the timing of property acquisition and negotiations with property owners; Foxconn’s low profit margins compared to industry benchmarks; and a Foxconn subsidiary’s net loss in 2016.
It’s actually worse than Wispolitics is letting on. What immediately jumps out is that WEDC’s own estimates show the Foxconn development will not add as many jobs as those state consultants claimed it would earlier this year.
The WEDC final results were significantly different from the EY and BT economic impact studies in that WEDC used a more concentrated 21-county region in Southern Wisconsin as its geographic area (as opposed to the state of Wisconsin or a 100- or 200-mile radius around the project site). Using a smaller geographic footprint reduces the labor population that can be applied to the indirect and induced employment multiplier, which has a material effect on indirect and induced employment. In addition, WEDC’s analysis only factors in the effect of state income tax revenue (using an effective rate of 4.35%) and does not factor in other state revenue impacts, including sales tax and corporate income.

As a result, WEDC’s analysis shows significantly lower impacts on construction (15,639 jobs (direct and induced), $896 millon in total labor income, and $188 million in total state revenue) and operations (19,931 jobs (direct and induced), $1.2 billion in labor income, and $57 million in annual state revenue).
That impact of less than 20,000 total jobs impacted by Foxconn is a well under the 25,000+ that Baker Tilly estimated and 35,000+ that Ernst and Young had. You don’t think those consultants might have been trying to tell Walker and WEDC what they wanted to hear so the Fox-con could be sold to the public, do you? In addition to fewer jobs once the plant is open, WEDC’s analysis says the construction of the plant will raise barely half the tax revenue that the two consultants claimed, which means Wisconsin will fall into the hole from this deal deeper and faster than we saw in the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s earlier analysis of the Fox-con.

To be fair, the LFB analysis counted on added sales taxes and the WEDC analysis does not so the gap would be less than $58 million a year between the two (the LFB asumed $115 million a year in total added tax revenue). But on the flip side, the LFB relied on the consultants’ estimates of 13,000 workers at the Foxconn facility by 2021, and the contract outline that was agreed to last week only planned on 9,100 workers to be at the plant at that time. In addition, Foxconn only needs to have 3,640 workers at the plant and in “related jobs” to avoid clawbacks.

Both of these items would delay the payback date that would come with the Foxconn, and the LFB already estimated that the state won’t break even for 25 years under the most optimistic of scenarios. In 25 years, it seems unlikely there’d be much going on at that plant anyway (especially since Foxconn can skip town in 15 without penalty).

It's going to be even worse than this

One other bit of news from WEDC’s analysis is a part that notes that most of the jobs will go to a Foxconn contractors and subsidiaries, with the claim that the average starting wage per hour will be $23.02 an hour in ALL facets. In addition to the sketchiness of using “average salary” as a gauge in general (a few high-priced workers throws that number off) the contractor part indicates another problem. Is the “average hourly wage” that is being spun by WEDC and the Walker Administration what is paid TO THE CONTRACTOR? If so, you’d figure the contractor would take some of that wage off of the top, and then pass along a smaller amount to Wisconsin workers.

In other words, a sizable amount of that “average wage” figure Walker and WisGOP keep spinning may well be going to someone who lives and works outside of the state. Keep an eye on this potential slight-of-hand going forward.

And this doesn’t even count the amount of economic activity in the state that will be funneled away and/or prevented because of so many taxpayer dollars being sent to the Fox-con, nor does it account for the healthy subsidies that are also going out from local governments in Southeastern Wisconsin.

The more you look at this scam, the more obvious it is that Wisconsin taxpayers are being taken for a ride by the Fox-con, with benefits that will never come close to covering the costs that we’re going to shell out.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Pretty pictures, but not good results as Wis economy still lags

I wanted to point you over to a couple of recent bits of Wisconsin economic analysis which evaluates where Wisconsin’s economy is, and where it might be going.

The first is another installment of Bruce Thompson’s Data Wonk segment in Urban Milwaukee, titled "The Wisconsin Jobs Mystery." That "mystery" that Thompson looks into is why the state has a low unemployment rate, but also low job growth, and I wanted to go over this portion of Thompson’s analysis, which seems to indicate that a significant reason Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is at a low 3.5% is because people are moving out of the state.
Other groups [of the unemployed] are new workers, such as recent graduates and those reentering the workforce after stopping work to raise children, get married or care for elderly relatives, who now want to re-enter the workforce. If they move to another state because they perceive it as more favorable, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate will go down and the other state’s will rise.

As the next chart (based on IRS data, comparing 2014 returns to the same people in 2015) shows, Wisconsin is a net exporter of people.

The next chart shows the average adjusted gross income for Wisconsinites who stayed put (in blue), those who moved within Wisconsin (brown), those moving to other states (yellow), and people from other states to Wisconsin (green). The solid lines are their 2014 income; the dotted lines are for 2015.

For younger people, there is not a lot of difference in income between those who move from the state and those who don’t. The differences get much starker with age. Those moving within Wisconsin fare worse, perhaps reflecting
the effect of evictions or other moves forced by finances. The most prosperous middle-agers are those leaving Wisconsin. It would be useful, I think, to better understand the reasons for these moves.

Look at that spike up for both of the yellow lines, which shows mid-career Wisconsinites that leave the state make more money. If Bruce isn’t going to say it, I will- Wisconsin businesses aren’t paying people enough to keep them around, and job growth is suffering as a result.

Another recent analysis of the state of Wisconsin’s economy comes from UW Professor Menzie Chinn in Econbrowser. Prof. Chinn notes that in 2017, the state has fallen short of the “future so bright, I gotta wear shades” rhetoric that Walker was trying to sell earlier in the year.
To begin with, let’s look at the forecasts used in the Governor’s budget, from February (based on IHS MarkIt forecasts), and compare to outcomes realized so far.

First employment:

As noted in this earlier post, employment has been trending sideways for some months. Currently, average employment through September 2017 is nearly 11,000 below the forecast for 2017 (and is still 29,400 below the level promised by Governor Walker for January 2015).

Second real GDP:

So far, GDP has grown 2.1% q/q SAAR in 2017. It would need to grow about 3.2% SAAR for the next 3 quarters to hit the forecasted level.
And Scott Walker's office seems to recognize that he looks ridiculous today in making those "future's so bright" statements, because you can't even find a record of that release on his site anymore.

And how much more are things going to pick up in a maxed-out work force that isn’t being paid enough? Walker and WisGOP have no plan to turn around this state’s unfavorable demographics and low pay - in fact, I’d argue they and their puppetmasters WANT that slow decline for political reasons.

Which means is if we want this state to snap out of the economic doldrums that we have been in for several years, it’s going to take a new crew in charge and a new way of thinking to do so. And even then, it'll take quite an effort to dig us out of the hole we've been put into under this Reign of Error.