As usual, I am piggy-backing on the good work Jake is doing.
The economy of late
Over the past several weeks, Jake has been posting extensively about the economic reports being released.
- Store closings are up, manufacturing activity is on a downhill slide, and private construction spending is down considerably.
- Growth in personal spending is nearly flat of late, manufacturing orders are bouncing back somewhat, and defense spending is what is providing the big economic boost right now.
- A recent federal reserve report indicates that the economy of the mid-west is sputtering in general but that home sales and consumer confidence are climbing somewhat.
Reports on these numbers are a daily occurrence of late. As of Friday, Dec. 6th, the Department is touting Wisconsin as a national leader in job growth.
Yes, Jake notes, wages are up, but there are some holes to this news that means no one should be popping champagne corks just yet. Jake observes that these job numbers actually under-report the growth that was being reported in the monthly jobs reports. The recent rise in unemployment during the latter half of 2019, in addition, could either indicate a hotter, more competitive job market or a job market that is beginning to cool down.
Jake also points out some of the key takeaways from the Wisconsin’s Shifting Job Market report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum. This report provides an examination of the job growth (or lack of growth) in Wisconsin over a ten-year period, from 2008 to 2018. As Jake explains:
The Policy Forum goes on to note that the Madison area has done exceptionally well in this 10-year time period for overall job growth, and in particular in these high-paying, educated/skilled positions.
For example, the Madison metro area has experienced strong job growth in general since 2008, with employment growing by over 54,000 overall (16%) and in 17 of the 22 occupational groups. Perhaps most strikingly, employment in highly coveted computer and mathematical occupations—which include software and web developers and computer programmers—has led the way, growing faster than in any other group.
* * *
[Manufacturing jobs, on the other hand, have been stagnant or in decline, particularly in the Milwaukee area.] And that trend has not gotten any better in 2019, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that manufacturing employment in the Milwaukee metro area is at its lowest level in more than 8 years, with a decline of 2,000 manufacturing jobs over the last 12 months.
That being said, the Milwaukee metro as a whole has rebounded some in 2019, with health care being a huge reasons for its job growth. As have the 2 next largest metropolitan areas in the state, for that matter. While these numbers aren’t adjusted for seasonality (and therefore require a year-over-year comparison), the Madison, Milwaukee and Green Bay areas have done better for adding jobs than the rest of the state.
[One year] Job growth Oct 2018-Oct 2019
Milwaukee metro +11,800 (+1.3%)
Madison metro +4,700 (+1.2%)
Green Bay metro +2,400 (+1.3%)
The down side is that while the remainder of the state outside of those 3 metro areas accounts for just over 1/2 of the state’s employees, it’s actually lost 5,100 jobs (-0.3%) while the Bigger 3 have grown. And many of those [remaining] areas have also been stagnating in population growth with lower educational levels.
The full jobs data for the year from June 2018 to June 2019 also has some revealing information. According to Jake:
Remarkably, [Wisconsin’s] 0.40% rate of [job] growth and 39th-place rankng in the US put Wisconsin 3rd out of 7 Midwest states for private sector job growth, with only Minnesota (+0.61%) and Indiana (+0.70%) doing better than us. So unlike much of the 2010s, we’re not trailing much of our region, but our region is badly below the US rate of growth of 1.25%. Which sounds a whole lot like the 2000s before the Great Recession, which wasn’t good for the Midwest even before the economy caved in.
If you go into Wisconsin’s figures by county, this stat jumps out at you.
Private sector job change, June 2018- June 2019
Dane County +5,033
Rest of State +4,987
Total job change, June 2018 – June 2019
Dane County +6,595
Rest of State +2,745
That’s right, Dane County added more than half the private sector jobs in Wisconsin over that 12-month period, and over 70% of [total] jobs. And literally 1/2 of the 72 counties in Wisconsin LOST jobs between June 2018 and June 2019. Oh, but we’re the crazy hippie moonbats in Madison while the outstate GOPs are the ones in touch with how to grow business in 2019. Riiiight.
Jake has the latest on a Libertarian-leaning think tank pointing out that FoxConn truly is turning into a shadow theater of the absurd:
- The subsidies granted to FoxConn will depress economic activity in the state for a decade or more.
- The state is saddled with economic waste because of Wisconsin’s commitments to FoxConn that cannot now go to actual businesses that could use that money productively.
- A recent Fox-Conn announcement about developing its Green Bay facility contained just a fraction of what was originally announced for that facility (seems to be a pattern with FoxConn) and has been met with a ‘believe it when we see it response.’
Update (10 Jan. 2019): Changed spelling of Fox-Conn to FoxConn.