Wisconsin falls behind on job growth

According to a new survey done by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wisconsin ranked 44th in the nation in job creation. This data was gathered from September 2011 to September 2012.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin’s rank has progressively declined since early 2012. The state was ranked 41st in the U.S. from June 2011 to June 2012 and from a rank of 37th from March 2011 to March 2012.

This data, called the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, is based on a census of 96 percent of all, non-farm workers public and private, according to the Journal Sentinel.

Many factors could explain the decrease in job creation, said David Helpap, UW-Green Bay assistant professor of public and environmental affairs.

Some argue the instability caused by Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial 2011 budget repair bill, Act 10, may have made the Wisconsin’s business climate less favorable to business creation.

“It would be both because of the conflict between the government and unions, and if anything would stay long term,” Helpap said. “That makes it difficult for businesses to plan regarding things like tax climate and labor issues.”

One industry that could get hit hard in this job creation slump is manufacturing. Helpap said Wisconsin still relies on manufacturing quite a bit, and has had its share of challenges the past 30 years.

Helpap said manufacturing is changing from people on lines in 40-hour-a-week jobs to people with advanced degrees who know how to operate certain types of machinery.

“As a state, we’re still trying to adapt to this,” Helpap said. “The jobs we’ve seen lost, on a number of fronts, are manufacturing-type positions.”

Given the state’s investment in the agricultural industry with an older base, Wisconsin may not be among the cutting-edge states in technology, said Michael Kraft, UWGB professor emeritus of public and environmental affairs.

“You could argue it’s less likely we’d create jobs here than California’s Silicon Valley, Florida, Arizona or any other number of states that have a different kind of economy,” Kraft said.

Wisconsin would most likely compare with states like Michigan and Ohio. They have an older industrial base like Wisconsin and have not done well in recent years for job creation, Kraft said.

However, Michigan has benefitted from the revival of the auto industry.

“There’s no comparable industry in Wisconsin that has shown a massive turnaround like that,” Kraft said.

In order to get out of this slump, Helpap said one method the legislature and the governor might be using is taxes. However, there are indications taxes are only one facet businesses look at when moving to an area.

“Others are quality of life, infrastructure, transportation options and an education populace,” Helpap said, “If you get rid of some of those services, maybe for certain businesses, that’s problematic.”

Whatever the case may be, job creation and economic development in any environment are multi-faceted topics.

“It can be very hard to pinpoint one thing, and if you do, you’re not looking at the whole picture,” Helpap said.