Monday, March 13, 2017

Even the J-S is now asking why Wisconsin keeps failing on jobs

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel had a large, front-page story on Sunday regarding Governor Walker's failure to make Wisconsin's economy boom in his 6+ years in power. The flurry of recent jobs releases at the state and federal level spurred the article, which tried to look at why the state still lags behind the results that Walker promised when he claimed Wisconsin would be made "open for business."
For all of 2016, state reports show that employers added 17,200 jobs, by far the lowest annual tally since Walker took office in January 2011.

The total number of jobs created since Walker took office is 185,208, or 64,792 short of Walker's goal of 250,000.
And what's one of the biggest reasons? We can't attract talent to come here.
Marquette University economics professor Abdur Chowdhury agreed that a workforce skills gap was among the factors contributing to what he called a "malaise."

"There are lots of jobs available, but employers are finding it hard to fill those positions. Wisconsin is below average in the percentage of college graduates, ranking 30th, despite being 14th in state and local per capita spending on higher education," he said.

Chowdhury said Wisconsin has suffered from a "significant amount of brain drain," with recent estimates showing that the state loses about 10,000 college graduates each year.
And the results of some of that brain drain was apparent in another report that came out today, which was the January state-by-state jobs report. This January report has an extra bit of punch to it because it includes newly-benchmarked figures for all months of 2016, and as we can see, Wisconsin fared very poorly when compared to the rest of the Midwest over the last 12 months measured.

Private sector job growth, Jan 2016-Jan 2017
Mich +2.11%
Ind. +1.18%
Minn +1.13%
Iowa +0.92%
Ohio +0.73%
Wis. +0.54%
Ill. +0.33%

6th out 7 is bad, and getting doubled up by Minnesota is pretty damn unacceptable. As mentioned previously, this is Wisconsin's worst 12-month stretch of private sector job growth since 2010, meaning it's the worst 12 months for jobs in Scott Walker's tenure in office.

You can see how job growth in the state flattened out in the past year when you look at this chart of the Walker jobs gap, which has now grown well past 110,000 jobs.

And notice that the state would have well added over 300,000 jobs if we had merely kept up with the rest of the nation. Also note that Minnesota has added over 250,000 jobs in the last 6 years (despite starting from a lower number in 2010), while I would be surprised if Wisconsin even hits 250,000 in 8 years.

So tell me, why would anyone think that staying on the same trickle-down mentality with the wage suppression and de-investment in infrastructure and services would turn things around in our declining state? And why should we continue to accept this by keeping these failing, regressive WisGOPs in power?


  1. I'm willing to consider the possibility there might be something to it, but I despise this argument.

    "Marquette University economics professor Abdur Chowdhury agreed that a workforce skills gap was among the factors contributing to what he called a "malaise."


    There isn't a line of people stretching out the door with the exact skill set and experience I want willing to do whatever I ask for whatever I pay.

    If you can't get the people you need, maybe you're not offering an attractive enough package. The labor market is tight now especially at the high end. Either you need to compete or you need to hire the best you can and train them up.

    I think the state can help by reducing the cost of and expanding the facilities for advanced education, but more than anything, I think we need to stop the institutionalized sneering at intellectual pursuits.

    The vast majority of our young people are still being educated in public schools, and we've spent the last 35 years since Nation at Risk demonizing and demeaning teachers.

    We've also consistently increased the demands on working parents. There are frequent days that, between my wife and I, we are out of the house 24 hours. We can't pretend that doesn't hurt childhood development.

    Maybe some of those chickens are coming home to roost. Intellectual curiosity begins at home and in primary schools. We can't wait for people to reach university age to start worrying about their education.

    1. This is one of the best comments I've seen on this blog. You need to be investing in the talent base, and giving rewards and respect to those who are part of that pipeline and those who are improving themselves.

      Instead, we've gone the other direction, and the state's lagging and stagnation is the result.

  2. When Walker was first elected, Wisconsin was projected to gain 190,000 jobs in his first 4 years if he had done nothing at all and just let the economy grow on its own. We didn't even gain the 190,000 in 6 years.

    How can Walker possibly keep saying that "it's working" when it obviously is not working and we are much worse off having him as governor.

    1. Very good question, Greg. Only a fool could look at this record of failure and say "Oh yeah, this is what we wanted."

      And why can't Dems point out these obvious stats and ask people "Do you really want 4 more years of this garbage?"