Sunday, March 27, 2011

Other than hoops, we really don't want to be like Indiana

As a former resident of both Indiana and Wisconsin, and a former attendee of both Butler and UW, I've taken an extra interest in the recent clashes and comparisons of the two places.

First off, I was thoroughly discouraged by UW's egg-laying against the Bulldgos- I'd just like us to look OK when we lose one of these years (the last time I felt that way was in 2005). But Butler's toughness was a key difference, as it was yesterday when they returned to the Final 4 in an accomplishment that might be more impressive than them doing it last year. It's a lot harder to stay on top after losing an NBA first-round pick than it is to make the run in the first place, and it's remarkable that the best basketball school in the state is a 4,600-person little private school in Indy.

But while Indiana impresses on the court, they're not so impressive in real life. I wanted to bring extra attention to this in light of a long profile in the Journal-Sentinel on Gov. Mitch Daniels and the ways that Scott Walker is trying to match his agenda here in Wisconsin. Well, given that Mitch has been in power for 6+ years in the Hoosier state, we probably have a good indication of the great results his policies have had, and how much we should emulate them, right?

Let's go first to unemployment and job growth, especially since the February 2011 state numbers were just released this week:

Ind.- 8.8% unemployment (-1.9% from last year),
Wisc.- 7.4% unemployment,(-1.7% from last year)

Ind.- +19,800 jobs last 12 months (0.7% growth)
Wisc.- +25,300 jobs last 12 months (0.9% growth)

OK, maybe that's just one year, though the fact that Indiana was at 10.7% unemployment should set off serious alarms. May have been a fluke from Elkhart Trailers and such diving under in 2009-2010. Let's check out the numbers from 6 years ago to see the bigger picture of Mitch's performance, and to see what things were like before the economy blew up.

Ind.- 5.7% unemployment (-3.1% vs. today)
Wisc.- 4.9% unemployment (-2.5% vs. today)

Ind.- -168,400 jobs last 6 years (5.7% loss)
Wisc.- -70,900 jobs last 6 years (2.5% loss)

So Indiana under Mitch has lost more than TWICE as many jobs as Wisconsin has in the same time period. Seems to not make any sense to follow it from that perspective. But maybe the jobs are better jobs in Indiana that pay well enough to keep people out of poverty, so let's look at household income and poverty rates for another view.

Median household income, 2005 (using 2009 dollars)
Ind.- $48,390
Wisc.- $51,784

Median household income, 2009
Ind.- $45,324 (-$3,066, -6.3%)
Wisc.- $51,122 (-$662, -1.3%)

Poverty rates 2009
Ind.- 14.4%
Wisc.- 12.4%

Change in poverty 2005-2009
Ind.- +2.2%
Wisc.- +2.2%

Yeah, I don't think things have worked out too well for the average Hoosier under My Man Mitch. As mentioned before, Wisconsin held up comparatively well during this economic crisis, while Indiana has floundered, and has fallen further behind the fellow Midwesterners in the Badger state.

So while Butler may be the type of basketball team we'd like to be here in Wisconsin, we wouldn't want to have the Hoosier "quality" of life. Amazing how those pesky facts continue to get in the way of the narrative that "tax hell Wisconsin" was going down the drain the last few years, eh? Let's keep Mitch Daniels' failing ideas in Indiana where they belong, shall we?

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