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.

  • 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, Javier Rodriguez, and Mel Meder. Wisconsin’s Child Care Workforce. COWS, 2016.

    Wisconsin’s Child Care Workforce focuses on teachers and assistant teachers working at child care centers and self-employed family child care providers throughout the state. It draws on a 2015 survey developed and conducted by the University of Wisconsin Survey Center (UWSC) and COWS. Information about child care teachers and assistant teachers was obtained through a survey of child care center directors. Information about family providers was obtained via a survey sent to these providers. The response rate for both centers and family providers was over 60 percent and the samples are representative geographically and in terms of the quality of child care in Wisconsin.

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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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  • 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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  • Wisconsin added 7,200 jobs in February – one of the largest increases in number of jobs since October of 2015. Growth in February follows on the heels of good news in January as well (jobs up 7,200) and marks a strong start in 2016. Job growth was driven by expansion in the private sector, where 8,000 new jobs were created. (Roughly 800 government jobs were lost.) The unemployment rate held at 4.6% where it has been since mid-2015.

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  • Wisconsin’s labor market stalled at the start of 2016, losing 200 jobs according to federal data. Job losses were concentrated in the private sector with two – manufacturing (down 400 jobs) and construction (down 1000) – accounting for the entire private sector decline. Public sector growth of 1,200 jobs largely offset the private sector losses. The state’s job base is growing but only slowly. Compared to a year ago, Wisconsin has 27,000 more jobs today — growth of less than 1%. The number of jobs available now is just slightly higher than it was in December 2007, just before the Great Recession. Unemployment held steady at a 4.6%. Low unemployment rates imply greater labor market opportunity. There is some national evidence that those who had dropped out of the labor force are being tempted to rejoin it. Sustained low levels of unemployment make this dynamic more likely.

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  • Laura Dresser, and Mel Meder. Increasing Skills & Opportunity for Wisconsin’s Immigrants. COWS, 2016.

    Immigrants have been shaping Wisconsin’s economy since the state’s founding, and it is critical to ensure that today’s immigrants have access to the skills and education that will build shared prosperity and strengthen our economy into the future. This report provides an overview of demographic trends among the immigrant population, and addresses pressing needs with regard to citizenship, language training, and access to higher education that prevent these working families from thriving economically.

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  • Jobs data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show an increase of 16,000 jobs in Wisconsin this past month. While statistics are subject to monthly revisions, and the exact figure might change, this substantial increase is significant and likely to remain the best month for job growth of 2015. This increase in jobs is very good news for the Badger State which has been on a weak trajectory since the recovery began. Wisconsin now is firmly and consistently posting a job count well in excess of the number of jobs the state had on the eve of the Great Recession (December 2007).

    Because the population has grown since the Great Recession, just getting back to the 2007 job base doesn’t provide the same sense of opportunity, however. For the labor market to provide the same level of opportunity for our current population, the state job market is still 95,000 jobs short. In fact, even if this strong rate of job growth were maintained –a difficult feat in itself–the state is still half a year from recovering to the level of opportunity in 2007.

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