Wisconsin’s Two Great Crises

In this column for Isthmus, I argue that Wisconsin’s economic malaise has been made worse by the failure in the state’s leadership. Here’s a chunk of copy:

For a good decade, Wisconsin’s economy has stagnated and declined. Even the end of the Great Recession in 2009 brought no real relief.

The ugly truth is that the Wisconsin workforce has shed 164,500 jobs from the pre-recessionary high in December 2007. That’s almost a 6% decline, according to a fine, detail-rich report from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy.

But the situation is even worse, given the state’s population growth of 2.8%. COWS estimates that another 81,000 jobs are needed to keep the newcomers employed.

Wisconsin’s total job deficit? 245,900 jobs.

Just as bad, wallets are noticeably thinner for almost everyone. COWS focuses on four-person families and finds over the past decade that annual income has dropped from $84,500 to $76,000.

Note that conservatives often bash the Center on Wisconsin Strategy because its leaders — Joel Rogers and Laura Dresser — are advocates for progressive economic strategies. But the center’s reports pass the ideological blood test. COWS was just as hard on Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle during his lackluster eight years when the Wisconsin economy first slid into the ditch.

And that brings us to the most discouraging fact of all: Wisconsin’s leaders — not just Democrats and Republicans, but business and labor, city and county, even university and tech school leaders — have been depressingly ineffective in getting us out of that ditch.

We have a leadership deficit in Wisconsin, not just a jobs deficit.

To read more , including my criticism of Gov. Scott Walker for saddling the state’s jobs agency with a political appointee with no relevant experience, please go here.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Development, Politics, TheDailyPage.com/Isthmus

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