State of Working Wisconsin Reports

Below is a list of State of Working Wisconsin reports. Explore other topics here and all COWS reports here.

  • Laura Dresser. The State of Working Wisconsin 2020. COWS, 2020.

    For the State of Working Wisconsin 2020, COWS created a digital presence to tell the story of workers in the state during COVID-19. This exciting new report shines a spotlight on the brutal Black-white disparities that define this state and provides worker profiles to crystallize the human costs of this crisis. For more than two decades, COWS’ State of Working Wisconsin has presented the workers’ perspective on the economy in the state: what’s going on with work and jobs, who is winning in this economy, and who is being left out; where is disparity growing; what’s happening to the economic chasm separating Black and white workers in the state. The SOWW 2020 website can be seen here.

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  • Laura Dresser, and Joel Rogers. The State of Working Wisconsin 2019: Facts & Figures. COWS, 2019.

    Each year on Labor Day, COWS draws a picture of how working people in Wisconsin are faring. The long report, The State of Working Wisconsin, is released biannually on even-numbered years and looks at the economy comprehensively from a working-family perspective. In odd-numbered years, like 2019, we provide a more abbreviated and focused report, called The State of Working Wisconsin: Facts & Figures.

    On some of the most well-known economic indicators, there is good news for Wisconsin workers. The unemployment rate in the state has been consistently low. The economy is steadily adding jobs. These are important measures for working people’s lives. When jobs are more available not only is it easier to secure a job, it is also easier to get the hours of work you want, to be able to ask for time-off you need, and to make ends meet. This Labor Day, with the memory of the Great Recession of 2007 now fading from memory, workers across Wisconsin have this good news to celebrate.

    Even so, many working families in the state feel stressed and stretched. In this report, then, we provide information on few key long-term trends that are contributing to the stress even in the context of low unemployment. Looking across the last forty years, the challenges working people face are clear. Wage growth has been anemic. Income inequality is reaching new highs. Unions, which have been so critical to supporting workers in this state, are in serious decline. Additionally, state policy, which could be helping to close gaps, is actually exacerbating these trends. From tax changes that reward our highest income families to rejection of health insurance to cover our families in need, policy continues to pave the low-road for our state.

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  • Laura Dresser, Joel Rogers, Emanuel Ubert, and Anna Walther. State of Working Wisconsin 2018. COWS, 2018.

    Despite job gains, Wisconsin’s job growth is slow relative to the national pace. Wages are still in no way keeping pace with worker productivity. Wisconsin is comparatively weak in more lucrative occupations: professional, scientific, technical, and information. Our manufacturing sector, while growing, is a still significantly smaller than at the beginning of the century. And inequality continues to grow. One in five workers currently holds a poverty-wage job with few benefits. Rural economies are declining. Wisconsin’s black/white disparities still lead the nation.

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  • Laura Dresser, and Joel Rogers. The State of Working Wisconsin 2017: Facts & Figures. COWS, 2017.

    For more than two decades now, annually, on Labor Day, COWS reports on how working people are faring in the state. The State of Working Wisconsin, released biannually on even-numbered years since  1996, is our long-form report, and looks at the economy comprehensively from a working-family perspective. In odd-numbered years, also biannually, we provide a more abbreviated and focused report.

    In this year’s report, we provide our overview of some of the most critical issues facing working people in the state. The issues, taken together, are daunting – slow growth in the Wisconsin labor market, long-term stagnation in wages, extreme black/white disparity, increasing income inequality, and declining unionization. The report provides a chance to take stock of what the data say about working people in Wisconsin.

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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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  • Laura Dresser, Siying Fu, Javier Rodriguez, and Joel Rogers. The State of Working Wisconsin 2015: Facts & Figures. COWS, 2015.

    Over Labor Day weekend, COWS released The State of Working Wisconsin 2015 Facts & Figures, an overview of the critical issues facing working people in the state. From the perspective of working Wisconsin, the news this weekend is not good. Wisconsin faces slow growth, extreme racial disparity in unemployment, long-term stagnation in wages, and one-fourth of workers struggling in poverty-wage jobs.

    Since 1996, COWS has released The State of Working Wisconsin every two years on Labor Day. It provides use the best and most recent data available to help build a comprehensive understanding of how working people in the state are doing. The full report comes out in even years. In odd years, like this one, 2015, the report is abbreviated and more focused.

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  • Laura Dresser. State of Working Wisconsin 2014. COWS, 2014.

    The State of Working Wisconsin 2014 uses the best and recent data available on jobs and wages to describe the serious economic challenges that Wisconsin continues to face.

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  • The national recovery has been weak. And in Wisconsin, the recovery has lagged behind even the meager pace posted nationally. This Labor Day, COWS has released The State of Working Wisconsin Update 2013, which shows just how much the Wisconsin economy has lagged behind the national pace and the sectors that account for the Wisconsin difference.

    We find that Wisconsin would have 33,000 more jobs today if we’d only kept on pace with the national recovery. Since the Wisconsin economy began to grew, we’ve added 99,000 jobs. If Wisconsin had tracked the national recovery, the economy would have added 132,000 jobs. That difference, 33,000 jobs, is a measure of the how Wisconsin lags behind the national trend. To be sure, even that national trend is too weak. But in Wisconsin, we should have 33,000 more jobs today than we do.

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  • Matías Cociña, Laura Dresser, Edo Navot, and Joel Rogers. The State of Working Wisconsin 2012. COWS, 2012.

    The ninth edition of COWS’ biennial report, The State of Working Wisconsin 2012uses the best and most recent data available to refine our understanding of exactly how working people in Wisconsin are doing. This year’s Labor Day report finds too many workers in Wisconsin waiting for an economic recovery strong enough to produce jobs, higher family income, and a growing sense of security.

    For the first time this year, COWS is also including an online supplement to the print version. The supplement provides more maps, more data, and interactive graphs on key economic and social indicators at the state and county level. The online supplement will be updated as new data becomes available and will provide access to figures and graphs on the Wisconsin economy as they come out.

    Documents include Full Report, Executive Summary and a technical note that compares the CES and QCEW, two key sources of data on employment that have caused some recent controversy.

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  • Laura Dresser. The State of Working Wisconsin - Update 2011. COWS, 2011.

    The State of Working Wisconsin – Update 2011 provides data on the unemployed and underemployed in the state.

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  • Laura Dresser, Edo Navot, and Joel Rogers. The State of Working Wisconsin 2010. COWS, 2010.

    The State of Working Wisconsin is a biennial report, produced by COWS, that offers a comprehensive review of the status of jobs and workers in Wisconsin. On alternate years, we produce a short update report instead of the full report. The State of Working Wisconsin is filled with data and analysis on jobs, wages, poverty, and income, as well as an account of economic inequality in the state.

    The State of Working Wisconsin 2010 documents the impact of the Great Recession on Wisconsin workers.

    Documents include Full Report and Executive Summary

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  • The State of Working Wisconsin – Update 2009 gives a snapshot of the effects of the recession on Wisconsin workers and their families, and reports on other key trends.

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  • Laura Dresser, and Joel Rogers. State of Working Wisconsin 2008. COWS, 2008.

    The State of Working Wisconsin 2008, a biennial report on how the state and its workers are faring. Documents include Full Report and Summary.

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  • Provides a thorough review of jobs, wages, poverty, income, and job quality in the state on a bi-annual basis.

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  • Laura Dresser, and Joel Rogers. The State of Working Wisconsin 2006. COWS, 2006.

    COWS releases The State of Working Wisconsin every two years, in conjunction with the release of The State of Working America by the Economic Policy Institute.

    2006 marks the 10th year of the publication and the expansion of the report to include ‘COWS Issue Spotlights’ highlighting key Wisconsin topics such as health care and pension benefits, the trap of low wage jobs, and Wisconsin’s energy use. In addition, the report features ‘Fast Facts,’ making it easier for readers to quickly access key state statistics.

    Documents include both Full Report and Executive Summary.

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  • COWS’ State of Working Wisconsin Update, is a bi-annual report providing a thorough review of jobs, wages, poverty, income, and job quality in the state.

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  • Laura Dresser, and Joel Rogers. State of Working Wisconsin 2004. COWS, 2004.

    The State of Working Wisconsin offers an analysis of unemployment and underemployment in the state.
    Documents below offer Full Report and Executive Summary.

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  • Laura Dresser, and Joel Rogers. The State of Working Wisconsin: Update 2003. COWS, 2003.

    Every two years, COWS produces The State of Working Wisconsin.

    Relying on data provided by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), COWS offers “The State of Working Wisconsin: Update 2003” as a brief investigation of the effects of the continuing economic slowdown on workers in the state.

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  • Laura Dresser, and Joel Rogers. The State of Working Wisconsin 2002. COWS, 2002.

    The State of Working Wisconsin, 2002 is our attempt to answer questions regarding the recent recession and unemployment with the best and most recent data available. Drawing on a wide variety of information on family incomes, taxes, wages, unemployment, and poverty, it examines the impact of today’s economy on Wisconsin workers and families.

    Documents include both Full Report and Summary.

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  • The State of Working Wisconsin: Update 2001 is a brief investigation of the effects of the recent economic slowdown on workers in the state, as well as offering for the first time data on family hours of work and workers’ benefits, in addition to standard data on wages, unemployment and job growth.

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  • Laura Dresser, Scott Mangum, and Joel Rogers. The State of Working Wisconsin. COWS, 1998.

    Using a variety of data on wages, family incomes, taxes, unemployment, and wealth and poverty, The State of Working Wisconsin 1998 examines the impact of today’s economy on the living standards of Wisconsin workers and their families. Throughout, we try to put current Wisconsin experience in perspective — through comparisons to national experience and Wisconsin’s own economic past.

    Documents below include the Executive Summary and the Full Report.

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  • Laura Dresser, Joel Rogers, and Julie Whittaker. The State of Working Wisconsin 1996. 1996.

    The State of Working Wisconsin provides a statistical portrait of the economic status of Wisconsin workers and their families. Drawing on the most recent  data available, it maps Wisconsin performance on such leading economic indicators of worker well-being as household and family income, wages, inequality, and taxes.
    Documents below include the Executive Summary as well as Full Report.

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  • Laura Dresser, and Joel Rogers. The State of Working Wisconsin 2000. COWS.

    The economic expansion that began in 1991 has turned out to be longer and stronger than any other in American history. Over the last five years, economic growth and declining unemployment rates have started to bear fruit for working families’ incomes. Even so, the typical American family is working more hours, wage inequality remains high, poverty has stagnated rather than fallen, and poor job quality is still a serious American problem.

    Documents include both Full Report and Summary.

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