Uneven Progress for Wisconsin Workers

Monday, September 5, 2016 at 8:26 PM by

The latest annual State of Working Wisconsin report has some positive findings about recent trends for Wisconsin workers; however, it also shines a light on some ongoing challenges, and it concludes that Wisconsinites “all need stronger policy to support broadly shared prosperity.”

COWS (formerly known as the Center on Wisconsin Strategy) issues this report every Labor Day weekend. Because it’s an illuminating report, and Labor Day is an important holiday, I want to share the major findings – while minimizing my own labor this weekend. In that spirit, I am passing along several excerpts from the COWS press release.

On the plus side of the ledger, the report describes the positive effects in Wisconsin of the national economy’s gradual rebound from the Great Recession:

“The state has more jobs than ever before, unemployment rates have fallen to pre-recession levels, and workers that want full-time work are having an easier time finding it.

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Wisconsin’s Electorate and Economy: What the National Media Should Know

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at 10:28 AM by

National attention has turned to Wisconsin because our presidential primary on April 5th is the only one in the next week. It’s also a significant primary because the percentage turnout is likely to be higher than in any other state since the New Hampshire primary.

For reporters and others who are trying to understand some of the demographic, economic and political context for the April 5th election, we’ve pulled together a variety of facts about Wisconsin and how it compares to other states.  Here are a few highlights from that data: Read more

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Paying for Job Reductions: The Unreported Story of a Ballooning Tax Credit

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at 8:44 PM by
An uncapped Wisconsin corporate tax credit is expected to balloon to $279 million in the next fiscal year, more than twice the original cost projection.
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The State of Working Wisconsin 2015

Monday, September 7, 2015 at 9:00 AM by

A new report issued in conjunction with the Labor Day weekend by COWS provides a thorough examination of Wisconsin job numbers, wages, poverty, and job quality, and it provides a sobering assessment of how working people in Wisconsin are doing:

Wisconsin faces slow growth, extreme racial disparity in unemployment, long-term stagnation in wages, and one-fourth of workers struggling in poverty-wage jobs.” 

The new COWS report – The State of Working Wisconsin 2015 – illustrates that as the national economy has gradually rebounded following the Great Recession, Wisconsin’s job growth has lagged behind.  COWS’ analysis concludes that “if Wisconsin had enjoyed the same rate of job growth as the rest of the nation across the course of the recovery, the state would have 90,000 more jobs today.”  The national growth rate from January 2011 through June of this year was 60% faster than the job growth Wisconsin experienced during that time..  Read more

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Tax Cuts Haven’t Done Much to Boost Job Growth in Wisconsin or Other Tax-Cutting States

Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 9:50 AM by

More evidence is piling up that states that made big tax cuts in recent years – including Wisconsin – are failing to keep up with the rest of the country when it comes to job growth. Read more

Rein in Tax Breaks that Aren’t Tied to Job Creation

Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at 7:29 PM by

There’s been a lot of talk in Wisconsin over the last couple of weeks about the need to ensure that tax breaks and loans awarded by Wisconsin’s economic development agency are limited to businesses that are creating jobs and fulfill their job growth commitments.  Yet almost no attention has been paid to the fact that the state’s largest tax credit for corporations is ballooning in cost and is distributed to businesses operating in Wisconsin regardless of whether they are expanding or slashing their workforce in our state. Read more

“Right to Work” Bill Would Suppress Wisconsin’s Already Anemic Wages

Monday, February 23, 2015 at 7:32 PM by

Though researchers disagree on the effects of “right to work” legislation on the number of jobs, what is quite clear is that such laws suppress wages.  Now that legislative leaders have suddenly put a so-called “right to work” (RTW) bill on a very fast track, I hope legislators will take a careful look at a couple of recent studies that examine the economic effects and warn against following the path of the states that have approved RTW laws

A recent report by Dr. Abdur Chowdhury, who teaches economics at Marquette, reached the following conclusion about the effects on Wisconsin income and state taxes:  

The potential net loss in direct income to Wisconsin workers and their families due to a RTW legislation is between $3.89 and $4.82 billion annually. Using a conservative estimate of an impact multiplier of 1.5, the total direct and induced loss of a RTW legislation is estimated between $5.84 and $7.23 billion annually. Read more

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By Targeting Unions, Lawmakers Risk Lowering Wages for Workers

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 9:06 AM by
Unions raise worker wages.

Unions raise worker wages.

Weakening unions will be a top priority for state lawmakers when they next meet in January, according to new statements by legislative leaders. Unions help workers achieve higher wages, and limiting unions’ abilities to advocate for workers could make it harder for some families to climb the economic ladder.

Unionized workers earn more in wages and other compensation than non-union workers who are otherwise the same in education, industry, age, and other factors. Union workers earn $1.24 more per hour, or 13.6% more than other similarly-situated workers who are not in unions, according to an 2012 analysis by the Economic Policy Institute. For a full-time worker, that wage difference adds up to nearly $2,600 per year.

In addition to earning more money, union workers are better off than their counterparts with regards to health insurance, retirement, and paid time off. Union workers are more likely to:

  • have employer-sponsored health insurance, including coverage after retirement;
  • have smaller health insurance deductibles;
  • have lower health insurance premium costs;
  • have a pension; and
  • have more paid time off.
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Cutting Taxes on Rich, Raising Them for Others Won’t Boost Wisconsin Economy

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 3:45 PM by

The best way to create jobs and build a broad-based prosperity in Wisconsin is to invest in excellent schools, safe communities, and a solid transportation network.

But a new report released today takes a different approach, claiming that giving big tax cuts to the rich and raising taxes for others would help the Wisconsin economy. The report, released by the conservative Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, repeats the myth that tax cuts create jobs, despite growing evidence to the contrary.

The report advocates changing the state’s tax mix to rely less on the income tax and more on the sales tax, a change the group says would boost the state’s economy. But what the report fails to mention is that the result would be big tax cuts for people with the highest incomes and higher taxes for everyone else. If Wisconsin eliminated the income tax and raised the sales tax to make up for the resulting revenue loss, the top 1% of earners in Wisconsin – a group with an average income of $1.1 million – would get a tax cut of a whopping $44,000 on average. Read more

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The 58,000 Job Question

Monday, September 1, 2014 at 10:59 AM by

 New Report Takes Comprehensive Look at Weaknesses, Strengths of Wisconsin’s Labor Market

Wisconsin’s economy is adding jobs at a slow pace, wage growth has stalled, and many workers don’t have the security and opportunity they need to get ahead, according to a new Labor Day report released from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS).

The report, “The State of Working Wisconsin, 2014,” provides a thorough examination of Wisconsin job numbers, wages, poverty, and job quality.

The information on Wisconsin job growth that is included in this report is helpful in deciphering the claims of political candidates who have helped bring a great deal of attention to jobs figures. The report notes that in many ways the hardships for Wisconsin workers mirror the troubles in the national economy. But beginning in 2011, rates of job growth in Wisconsin have fallen behind the national average:

“From January 2011 to June 2014, Wisconsin gained 109,200 jobs, posting growth in the labor market of 4.0 percent.

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