Tuesday, November 28, 2023

QCEW update - Wisconsin's "low" growth is still better than the last 20 years

Had a few notes from last week's pre-release of the "gold standard" Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), which looked at new numbers for June 2023 from last week.

One part of this report gives the total jobs situation for all 50 states, and it shows Wisconsin is still a bottom-tier state for job growth - 40th out of the 50 states. However, the Midwest generally has trailed the nation in job growth for a long time (colder weather, aging population, etc), and so we were right in the middle for job growth in our part of the country.

Total job growth, QCEW, June 2022 - June 2023
Mich +2.46%
Minn +2.30%
Ill. +1.907%
Wis. 1.904%
Ohio +1.72%
Ind. +1.45%
Iowa +1.06%

(huh, 3 Dem-run states on top, 3 GOP-run states on the bottom)

I'll add that our 1.9% increase in job growth and the nearly 55,600-job amount is significantly better than anything we had for year-over-year growth in the 2000s or the 2010s. That’s a good sign in itself, and it means that the state had passed the number of jobs that it had in June 2019 – before the COVID pandemic caused nearly 400,000 jobs to go away by April 2020, which meant that we wouldn’t get back to pre-COVID levels for another 2 ½ years or so.

The initial QCEW release also looks at the job changes in large population counties. And the one leading the way in Wisconsin was the same one that has typically led the way for most of the last 10-15 years – Dane County. Madison’s home county added 9,729 jobs in the QCEW survey, accounting for more than 1/6 of the state’s job growth from June 2022 to June 2023, and nearly matching the 10,094 combined total of Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties. Dane also added nearly 2 ½ times the combined total of 3,932 jobs from Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago trio in the Fox Valley (the other 3 large counties that are tracked by the QCEW in this initial release).

This growth means that Dane County is more than 2.5% above the number of jobs it had 4 years ago, before the pandemic hit, and interestingly, the other 66 Wisconsin counties (as a group) have had slightly more growth than Dane County had from June 2019-June 2023 in the QCEW survey (2.9%). On the other side, Milwaukee, Brown, and Outagamie Counties still haven’t gotten back to their pre-COVID levels of jobs.

We will see what the picture looks like in the rest of the counties when the full QCEW release comes out next week, and we will get to break down the figures in each sector.

But the initial release still shows the strength of the Biden-era recovery, even in a lower-growth state like Wisconsin. And it shows that Dane County continues to be a dominant economic powerhouse that lifts the state, while Milwaukee County still has yet to recover, and perhaps the new sales tax and shared revenue system can help to reverse the defunded, lagging output that has dogged out largest city and county for far too long.

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