Wisconsin Economy Publications

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

  • Katya Spear. “Improving Health Outcomes for All Through Local Policy Making”. The Municipality – Your Voice. Your Wisconsin, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, 2018.

    First featured in the March 2018 Community Health issue of The Municipality – Your Voice. Your Wisconsin. Published by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

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  • In the fourth quarter of 2017, Wisconsin added 12,500 jobs, most of them in October. In contrast to the strong October, in December, Wisconsin actually lost jobs. Still, over the quarter, the state’s job base grew. Growth was driven by private sector gains, with the state adding 15,200 private jobs. The state lost 2,700 public sector jobs across the quarter capping off a very weak year in the public sector. Wisconsin’s ended 2017 with 3,300 fewer public sector jobs than a year ago. Still, as with the quarter, so with the year. Private sector growth meant that the state jobs base grew 1.4 percent: Wisconsin added 40,200 jobs in 2017. The unemployment rate continues to drop slowly across the nation and Wisconsin is not an exception. Unemployment in Wisconsin stands now at 3.0%, significantly below the level of the end of 2016 and at its lowest point since the recession.

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  • Criminalizing hard working families and falling into irrational fear harms all Wisconsin families and the Wisconsin economy. Immigrants are a core part of the Wisconsin economy and contributing to this state through taxes, education, and self-owned businesses. The state should be pursuing ways to welcome and build the skills of this community.

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  • After an inconsistent 2016, Wisconsin started off 2017 with a modest job growth across the first quarter. January through March, the state added 12,800 jobs. The growth was concentrated in January and February and offset job losses of 3700 jobs in March. Over the quarter, private sector creation compensated for the loss of almost 7000 jobs in the public sector. Additionally, the unemployment rate continues to edge down nationally and in Wisconsin. Unemployment in Wisconsin stands now at 3.4%, significantly below the level of the end of 2016.

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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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  • Wisconsin Budget Project and COWS. Pulling Apart 2017: Focus on Wisconsin’s 1 Percent. COWS, 2017.

    The income gap between the rich and the poor remains near its highest level ever, according to this report by the Wisconsin Budget Project and COWS. The wide chasm between the very highest earners and everyone else poses hardships for Wisconsin’s families, communities, and businesses.

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  • Laura Dresser, Javier Rodriguez, and Mel Meder. When Work Is Not Enough: Toward Better Policy to Support Wisconsin’s Working Families. COWS, 2017.

    In Wisconsin, policy makers seem to increasingly assume that work, and work alone, can provide a decent standard of living. However, working families continue to face a slew of challenges – low wages, inadequate benefits, insufficient hours – generated by the very jobs that are supposed to be the answer. This report highlights the disconnect between state policies and the realities of Wisconsin families working in jobs at or near the poverty line.

    The landscape of public support systems is changing in the state of Wisconsin, in the direction of making benefits more difficult to access for people who toil in bad jobs or cannot secure employment at all. A sharp turn toward more accessibility by redesigning the work requirements and better understanding the nature of bad jobs is needed.

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  • Wisconsin ended 2016 with 2.93 million jobs. In terms of job growth, the year was not particularly strong or consistent. Wisconsin’s December job total is just slightly above the level reached at the end of the summer. In the last quarter of 2016, the Wisconsin labor market grew by 10,500 jobs, or an average of just over 3,000 jobs per month.

    Wisconsin Job Watch: 4th Quarter 2016 Update marks a change – COWS will now provide a quarterly picture of how Wisconsin’s economy is faring.

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  • 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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