Jobs and Skills Publications

Below is a list of our reports related to jobs and skills, in descending order by year published. Explore other topics here and all COWS reports here.

  • Rhandi Berth, Laura Dresser, and Emanuel Ubert. Moving Apprenticeship into Manufacturing’s Future: Industrial Manufacturing Technician. COWS, 2017.

    This report offers the story of apprenticeship innovation which is remaking apprenticeship for the new and rapidly evolving manufacturing sector.

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  • Wisconsin has the regrettable distinction of ranking among the worst states in the nation in terms of racial equality. Various aspects of the disparity – from education to jobs and income to incarceration – have been documented consistently for more than a decade. These disparities are gaining increasing attention from activists and policy makers. Even so, and despite considerable local and statewide efforts to close these gaps, too few in Wisconsin understand the way that Wisconsin’s level of racial inequality is, in fact, dramatically more pronounced than in other states.

    Wisconsin’s Extreme Racial Disparity seeks to support and fuel the efforts of so many who are organizing, strategizing and working to close the gap.

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  • Hannah Halbert, and Stephen Herzenberg. “Job Quality in WIOA: Three Ways to Steer Investments towards High Road Jobs”. NAWDP Advantage, Vol. 29, no. 11, National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, 2016, p. 5.

    Implementation of the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is well underway. This process creates unprecedented opportunity to adopt policies and practices that boost job quality. Connecting workers with the best quality job possible serves job seekers better. More stable work means higher income, longer job tenure, and better predictability for managing the tensions between work and life. But beyond that, WIOA policies for job quality help protect public investments in training by ensuring that those investments are not simply lost in a revolving door of turnover. Policies that focus on better quality jobs help make WIOA resources a reward for employers who are already treating their workers with greater care, rather than subsidizing low-road competitors who may waste the investment. The full report was produced by COWS, the Keystone Research Center in Pennsylvania, and Policy Matters Ohio, identifies three WIOA quality standards that can target public training investment where it will have stronger returns.

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  • Laura Dresser, Joel Rogers, and Javier Rodriguez. State of Working Wisconsin 2016. COWS, 2016.

    The State of Working Wisconsin 2016 uses the best and recent data available on jobs and wages to describe the economic challenges that Wisconsin continues to face.

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  • In April COWS reported a dramatic job loss of more than 10,000 jobs. This month, the labor market brings better news, with increases that move us back in the right direction. Since last month, Wisconsin added 5,500 jobs. This increase was driven by private sector job growth where 9,700 jobs were added. At the same time, some 4,200 government jobs were lost between April and May. The unemployment rate in Wisconsin dropped two tenths of percentage points and stands now at 4.2%.

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  • The economy is growing again, but gains are concentrated on the state’s richest residents. As in the nation, inequality is on the rise. Over the last 40 years, Wisconsin’s richest residents have experienced dramatic increases in income, yet the rest of the state’s residents have experienced little or no income growth. The widening chasm between the very highest earners and everyone else poses hardships for Wisconsin’s families, businesses, and communities. Families can’t thrive when income growth is nearly non-existent for everyone except those at the top, and businesses need a strong middle class bolstered by broad-based income growth to generate customers. Wisconsin communities pay the price if too many families and businesses fail to prosper. Growing income inequality is also bad for Wisconsin’s economic growth. To build a solid, fast-growing economy, we need to make sure that Wisconsin has a healthy, well educated workforce. But if nearly all the gains from economic growth benefit only a few, many Wisconsin residents won’t have the resources they need to become the kind of skilled workers our economy needs for the future. That hurts everyone.

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  • Wisconsin’s dramatic March job growth was nearly erased by equally dramatic job losses in April, as the state lost nearly 13,000 jobs. The private sector lost 11,500 jobs and the public sector fell by a little more than 1,000. Manufacturing losses of 4,200 jobs were particularly severe. And in contrast to the overall decline, construction gained 3,500 jobs last month. All in all, the unemployment rate in Wisconsin dropped one tenth of a percentage point and stands now at 4.4%. Additionally, over the last year, Wisconsin’s job growth lags behind some of its Midwest neighbors: while Michigan and Indiana have grown at a pace of 2.5% and 1.6% respectively, Wisconsin has grown at a pace slower than 1.5%.

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  • Satya Rhodes-Conway, Mel Meder, and Mary Ebeling. A Pittsburgh That Works for Working People. COWS, 2016.

    During the 20th Century, Pittsburgh was known for the steel industry and the broad middle class prosperity that was shared by many residents. Today, Pittsburgh is in the process of rebuilding its economy around new sectors, such as tech start-ups. The city has found some success in this economic transition, and the population has stabilized as highly educated tech workers move into trendy neighborhoods, but too many working people are being left behind. Residents worry about displacement from their homes and high housing costs, median income has stagnated, and racial disparities persist. The good news is that there are meaningful steps the Mayor and City Council can take to lead the city into an era of fair, inclusive, democratic and economically sustainable growth. Once again, Pittsburgh can become known for a broad middle class prosperity that is shared by many. This report provides recommendations and best practices models for how to take those steps. The vision presented in this report is one in which Pittsburgh is known as the city that rebuilt its economy into one of broadly shared prosperity and strong labor standards; with a housing market that meets the needs of long-term residents while also welcoming newcomers; that offers equitable, accessible and safe transportation choices that connect all residents to employment and other critical destinations; and that prioritizes strong community-police relations with historically marginalized communities of color and new immigrants to ensure Pittsburgh is a most livable city for all residents.

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  • Wisconsin’s labor market grew dramatically in March as nearly 16,000 jobs were added. This is a strong showing and reflect a very significant improvement in the opportunities in the state. The vast majority of new jobs were created in the private sector: private industries contributed about 15,600 jobs, while the public sector added just 300. The employment rate, which has been stable at 4.6% for a year, dropped one tenth of percentage points last month. The current unemployment rate in Wisconsin is 4.5%.

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