Wisconsin Leads the Nation in the Ratio of Manufacturing to Government Jobs
On a number of occasions this year, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) has lamented that Wisconsin now has fewer manufacturing jobs than government jobs. A WMC report implies that this recent development is a calamitous turn of events and reflects badly on Wisconsin’s business climate. A new analysis by the Wisconsin Budget Project compares the ratio of manufacturing to government jobs in every state, and those statistics put Wisconsin in a much different light than the WMC report.
The premise that a state would want to have more jobs in the manufacturing sector than in government seems reasonable. However, the WMC report raises an obvious question: how does Wisconsin compare to other states in the ratio of manufacturing to government jobs. To answer that question, the Wisconsin Budget Project looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on 2009 employment by sector for each state, and for every year since 1990 we compared Wisconsin’s ratio of manufacturing to government jobs with the same ratio at the national level. We also examined the most recent (2008) Census Bureau data on state and local government employment in all 50 states.
Our analysis of the job sector data reveals the following:
- In 2009 Wisconsin was the only state with more manufacturing jobs than government jobs, and only Indiana was even close.
- At no time in the last 20 years has the national ratio of manufacturing to government jobs exceeded the current ratio in Wisconsin.
- That ratio was almost twice as high in Wisconsin last year as it was for the United States as a whole (1.03 vs. 0.53).
- Wisconsin and Indiana have a larger percentage of their total jobs in manufacturing than any other states.
- The size of Wisconsin’s state and local government workforce is 8.2 percent below average, relative to the state population, and only 9 other states have fewer state and local jobs as a ratio of the state population.
If the ratio of manufacturing to government jobs is a good measure of a state’s economic vitality, WMC and all of us should celebrate the fact that Wisconsin is number one.