Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Wisconsin jobs going in reverse while Minnesota still thriving

Today had the jobs release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for all 50 states, and I figured Wisconsin’s job-losing August referenced in this post, although oddly not mentioned in much of the state’s media) would render it pretty low compared to the rest of the country. But what was intriguing was that many of our Midwestern neighbors also struggled last month, at least on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

Private sector job change, August 2016
Ind. +5,600
Iowa +4,000
Minn -2,100
Ohio -5,000
Wis. -6,200
Ill. -7,800
Mich -12,400

Now maybe some of this may be fluky, because August has become notorious for low jobs reading in the initial BLS report, due to seasonal adjustment reasons such as the start of the school year. But what’s different for Wisconsin is that most other Midwestern states weren’t struggling like we were in the time before this August report came out. As I and UW’s Menzie Chinn have each noted, the last 3 months have all featured downward revisions for our state’s jobs numbers, meaning there was basically no job growth in the quarter before August.

So while it’s been hard to pinpoint Wisconsin as an awful performer in the individual jobs reports for most of the warm-weather months, when you step back and look at how the state has fared since March (ironically, the last month measured by the “gold standard” Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages), we have been noticeably worse than everywhere else in our part of the country. And look who’s topping that same list.

Change in private-sector jobs March-Aug 2016
Minn +22,200
Ind. +16,700
Iowa +10,900
Ill. +6,600
Mich +4,800
Ohio +3,400
Wis. -6,700

Change in total jobs March-Aug 2016
Minn +25,200
Iowa +14,100
Ind. +12,900
Ohio +12,000
Ill. +2,000
Mich -300
Wis. -5,500

The trend of Minnesota’s economic performance putting Wisconsin’s to shame since Dem Mark Dayton (in Minnesota) and GOP Scott Walker (in Wisconsin) continues, and it’s something that shouldn’t be accepted by Cheesheads who should be asking hard questions about why after 5 ½ years of GOP control, we continue to fall behind the neighbors to the west.

And those aren’t just entry-level jobs that Wisconsinites are losing out to Minnesota in. Take a look at this article from the University of Minnesota’s student newspaper today, which interviews several faculty members who went to Minnesota from the UW System in the last year. And they point the finger directly at Gov Walker and his fellow regressives in the Wisconsin GOP. Here is a sampling.
Changes to policies adopted by the Wisconsin Board of Regents weren’t just about tenure, [chemical engineering professor Mahesh] Mahanthappa said, but also about what departments may be discontinued.

Similar concerns were also expressed by other science faculty members due to political pressure from the Wisconsin Legislature to avoid topics such as climate change, he said.

“Their jobs could potentially be at stake … if someone is doing something unpopular. Even in the sciences, those rules could lead to serious ramifications,” Mahanthappa said.

Chris Terry, a journalism professor who came to Minnesota from UW’s Milwaukee campus this fall, said the lack of resources in Wisconsin was a driving factor in his decision to leave.

“It was hard to get any sort of movement towards a better contract,” Terry said. “Promotions were almost unheard of.”

I can’t see Packer fans accepting this picture and staying second-best to the Vikings, but yah-hey-deres in NE Wisconsin and other parts of the state need to care just as much about getting our ass kicked by the ‘Sotans when it comes to adding jobs, paying an adequate wage, and in quality of life. And unlike with the Packers, I don’t see where things settle down from the bad things we saw the past week and reverse themselves in the near future. At least as long as the current crews are in charge of both places.

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