Falling Behind

econGrowthIndex.jpgJust two weeks ago, the New York Times published a chart comparing the economic progress of all 50 states since 2007, when the Great Recession began. Based on three key metrics, Wisconsin came in 37th. In other words, 36 states have made more economic progress than Wisconsin and only 13 have fared worse.

Now the Wisconsin State Journal has an interactive graph (reproduced as a static graphic here with the states labeled) showing how Wisconsin compares to the US average and to 6 other Midwest state along 4 dimensions: Nonfarm Employment, Manufacturing Hours, Unemployment Rate, and Wages. The graph shows the percent change over the three month period ending with December 2013 along the y axis and the percent change since January 2011, when Governor Walker began his (only) term. On the y dimension, the higher the dot, the greater the progress. On the x dimension better performance shows up as a greater distance from 0. The red dot represents Wisconsin.

As the chart shows, Wisconsin bested 3 of its neighbors in the last quarter of 2013, but lags behind all 6 Midwest states when the entire tenure of our current governor is measured. The green dot just to the right and somewhat above the red Wisconsin dot represents the aggregate of all 50 states. And there too, we lag behind whether we want to look just at the last three months of 2013 or we want to look back over the past 3+ years.

It didn't used to be this way. And it doesn't have to continue.

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