COWS in the News

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March 26, 2020 | Wisconsin Examiner

Progressive policy wonks on how the pandemic could change everything.

March 23, 2020 | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Social distancing would be a lot less inequality promoting if we had the infrastructure of strong medical care, insurance and housing supports for low-wage workers, but we don’t,” said Laura Dresser, a labor economist and the associate director of COWS. “That means that this crisis tends to push the inequality along, instead of the crisis showing how connected we are and pulling us closer together.”
March 17, 2020 | WUWM/Lake Effect
2020 Census Interview with Katya Spear, Mayors Innovation Project co-managing director.
February 20, 2020 | Online Education
Middle skills jobs are often thought of as “blue-collar” jobs, encompassing roles like plumbers, construction workers, and electricians. The category also includes any other career that requires less than four years of college (but more than just a high school diploma), such as medical technicians and cybersecurity experts. These jobs fall within industries that are considered the foundation of the American economy—yet roles in these fields are increasingly going unfilled. Full article here.
December 17, 2019 | University of Wisconsin-Madison News
Finding practical solutions to community-based challenges is at the heart of the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s UniverCity Year.
November 21, 2019 | Wisconsin State Journal
Impact of Act 10. Interview with Laura Dresser.
November 20, 2019 | WUWM 89.7 NPR Milwaukee
Wisconsin has some of the worst disparities between black and white people in the country. That's according to a new report that outlines the causes of these disparities — and possible solutions.
November 14, 2019 | WUWM 89.7 NPR Milwaukee/Lake Effect
A new report shows how the Midwest still has stark inequalities when it comes to race and opportunity.
November 14, 2019 | WPR/Central Time
We discuss the results of a new report on racial disparity in the Midwest, including barriers for black Wisconsinites in Milwaukee and beyond, and policy recommendations for improving things. Interview with Laura Dresser.
November 12, 2019 | WUWM 89.7 NPR Milwaukee
Despite the job market doing better than it has in previous years, some people are still having a hard time finding work. That's especially true for black Wisconsinites. Interview with Laura DresserAudio available.
October 27, 2019 | Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Westmoreland Coal Company’s spokesman said it wasn’t the company’s fault that those who spent their working lives mining coal for the company find themselves old and with neither pensions nor health insurance. He blames capitalism. “It’s just the market,” the corporate mouthpiece bellowed. Full story here:
October 21, 2019 | Wisconsin Examiner
New study maps how and why life is worse for African Americans in a dozen states, including Wisconsin.
October 15, 2019 |
COWS report highlights racial disparities in employment, education.
October 11, 2019 | WORT 89.9 FM

African Americans lag behind white Americans in employment and educational outcomes nationally, but University of Iowa Professor Colin Gordon’s Race in the Heartland report argues that the gap between white and black Midwesterners is among the worst in the country.


Furthermore, a related paper entitled “Wisconsin’s Extreme Racial Disparity” uses data from Gordon’s report to demonstrate that the state has the highest disparity between white and black residents in employment, bachelor’s degrees, and 8th grade math scores.


The state also ranks among the worst in the country for racial gaps in voter participation, home ownership, and incarceration.


Laura Dresser is the Associate Director of COWS, a nonprofit, nonpartisan “think-and-do tank” based at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, which partnered with the Iowa Policy Project, Policy Matters Ohio, and the Economic Policy Institute to produce the report. She says that segregationist policies hampered black communities’ ability to rebound from economic downturns.

October 10, 2019 |
‘Race in the Heartland,” written by Colin Gordon, is a joint project of Policy Matters Ohio, Iowa Policy Project, EARN and COWS, a nonprofit think-and-do tank, based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which promotes “high-road” solutions to social problems. The report provides critical regional, historical, and political context to help draw a more complete picture of the brutal racial inequality of the Midwest.
September 03, 2019 | Wisconsin Business News
A new report from UW-Madison’s COWS claims the state’s tax policy is contributing to inequality, as the richest Wisconsinites pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than poorer residents. 
August 31, 2019 | The Cap Times
University of Wisconsin-Madison's COWS released its annual “State of Working Wisconsin” this week, showing that since the passage in 2011 of Act 10 — the law that stripped public unions of bargaining rights — union membership has declined by 53.9%. That’s three times the decrease of 14.9% in neighboring Minnesota. The decrease nationally was 21.2%.
August 30, 2019 | Wisconsin Examiner

This Labor Day, there is good news and bad news for Wisconsin workers.

The good news is continued low unemployment and steady, modest job  growth, according to the annual State of Working Wisconsin report from the economy and jobs policy think tank COWS, based at the University of Wisconsin.

August 29, 2019 | University of Wisconsin-Madison News
Developed with the Wisconsin Idea in mind, UniverCity Year brings together faculty, students, and members of Wisconsin communities to address local challenges through university courses and research.
August 23, 2019 | University of Wisconsin-Madison News
Pepin County and the UniverCity Year program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison invite community members to attend an information session and celebration on August 28 to learn more about the three-year partnership between UniverCity Year and Pepin County, which will seek to find practical solutions to economic development and environmental sustainability challenges in Pepin County.

Michelle Bright

Press Liaison

Contact via email

Tel: 608.890.2543


Laura Dresser

Associate Director

Contact via email

Tel: 608.262.6944



University of Wisconsin

7122 Social Science Building

1180 Observatory Drive

Madison, WI 53706