Taking a Closer Look at the Pace of Job Creation in Wisconsin

Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 7:50 PM by

Recent jobs figures show that Wisconsin is making only minimal progress towards Governor Walker’s goal of 250,000 new private sector jobs. If Wisconsin continues to create jobs at the same rate as it has over the first 11 months of 2011, it would take more than 14 years to create that number of jobs in the private sector.

The number of private sector jobs in Wisconsin has been growing at a snail’s pace, but the total number of jobs has grown even more slowly. Wisconsin has been shedding jobs in the public sector, leading to layoffs and job loss for our teachers, librarians, and bus drivers. The result is that it would take more than half a century to add 250,000 jobs – public or private – to the Wisconsin economy at the current pace.

When Illinois raised taxes on corporations in early 2011, Governor Walker trumpeted Wisconsin’s new tax cuts  and welcomed Illinois businesses that might be interested in leaving the state. But Illinois added private sector jobs at a rate far faster than Wisconsin in 2011, even adjusting for the relative size of the state’s economies. If Wisconsin’s economy had grown at the same pace as Illinois’, Wisconsin would have added an additional 22,000 private sector jobs in 2011. That’s enough jobs to put every unemployed job seeker in Green Bay and Appleton back to work.

Over the last year, the Governor and the Legislature have made budget cuts that have resulted in fewer academic opportunities  for Wisconsin elementary and high school students, tax increases for working families, and higher university tuition.  In the meantime, the Legislature has added millions in new tax cuts that largely benefit corporations and well-off individuals. State policymakers have justified these actions in the name of job creation. But it’s a false choice to say that we can’t both create jobs and invest in our communities.

Tamarine Cornelius

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