Is the Recovery Leaving Wisconsin Behind?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 5:44 PM by

Wisconsin lagged behind other states in job creation in 2011, raising questions of whether the economic recovery is leaving Wisconsin behind.

State policymakers have placed a high priority on private sector job creation in Wisconsin, with frustratingly little to show for it. Between December 2010 and December 2011, Wisconsin added just 13,500 private sector jobs – barely keeping up with population growth. Jobs figures for December 2011 are preliminary and will be replaced with final figures in March.

It’s clear that Wisconsin is not making meaningful progress towards Governor Walker’s goal of 250,000 new private sector jobs. In fact, at this rate it would take nearly 19 years to create 250,000 new private sector jobs in the state.

The Governor and Legislators have focused their efforts on creating jobs in the private sector. But jobs in the public sector are important to the state’s economy too. In Wisconsin, hundreds of thousands of people hold public sector jobs teaching our children, repairing our roads, and keeping our communities safe. Over the last year, Wisconsin lost more than 10,000 jobs in the public sector, meaning that the total number of jobs Wisconsin added in 2011 was a measly 3,200. At that rate, it would take Wisconsin 78 years to add 250,000 jobs, whether they are in the public or private sector.

Job creation at the national level, less than stellar itself, far outpaces job creation in Wisconsin. On average, other states created private sector jobs at a rate three times as fast as Wisconsin. And when you include public sector jobs too, other states created jobs at a rate 11 times faster than Wisconsin. The last six months have been particularly bad for Wisconsin, when Wisconsin lost almost twice as many jobs as any other state.

State policymakers have pursued a variety of avenues in the name of job creation, including adding new tax breaks that largely benefit the wealthy and corporations, stripping more than a billion dollars out of Wisconsin’s public education system over two years, and making very significant cuts to the university and technical college systems that are turning out our economy’s newest workers. So far, these policies have not resulted in significant job creation.

Tamarine Cornelius

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