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Sarah White, with Laura Dresser and Joel Rogers | Sep 27, 2012
Category: Energy: Energy Efficiency, Energy, Jobs & Skills: Greener Skills

Greener Reality takes stock of the green economy, looking at what works (and doesn’t) in related skill and credentialing initiatives and placing them in a broader context of human capital development, community resilience, and climate change. Defining equity, sustainability, and greater democratization as critical elements of a truly greener future, the paper considers the practical and political challenges to achieving these in the United States.


This report builds on our earlier work in Greener Pathways and Greener Skills. Below is a quick guide to its contents. If you would like a printed copy of Greener Reality, please email us.



Reality: A Brief Tour

Greener Reality pulls aside the curtains of hype and derision to show a very real, very possible, very promising greener economy, hindered in its development (and job-creation capacity) by political myopia and economic malaise. It is not a defense of green jobs, but a frank assessment of the human capital required to build a greener and more generous America.


If you only have time for a glimpse, read the Executive Summary.


For an overview of the politics of green (it’s the economy, brothers and sisters) and a wee primer on climate change, economic inequality, and accountable democracy, see the Introduction.


After a somewhat dispiriting excursion through those realities, we outline the possibility of A Greener Economy and the skills required to build it across all sectors—energy, food, water, and beyond.


To learn what’s working in the field, go right to The Cases, which explore greener jobs training experiments across five sectors: Construction, Manufacturing, Health, Power, and Water.


These are part of a chapter on Greening Human Capital, which describes the challenging political moment and the very real difficulties of workforce innovation in a period of epic economic decline. Here we offer a suite of lessons learned, together with a longer-term greener skills agenda and policy framework.


Finally, the Conclusion is a meditation on education and training for sustainability, equity, and democracy—the kind of world we’d like our children to inhabit.

Laura Dresser, Joel Rogers, Edo Navot, Matías Cociña | Sep 02, 2012
Category: Jobs & Skills, Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

The ninth edition of COWS' biennial report, The State of Working Wisconsin 2012 uses the best and most recent data available to refine our understanding of exactly how working people in Wisconsin are doing. This year's Labor Day report finds too many workers in Wisconsin waiting for an economic recovery strong enough to produce jobs, higher family income, and a growing sense of security.


Download the executive summary or the full report. If you would like a printed copy of the report, please email us.


For the first time this year, COWS is also including an online supplement to the print version. The supplement provides more maps, more data, and interactive graphs on key economic and social indicators at the state and county level. The online supplement will be updated as new data becomes available and will provide access to figures and graphs on the Wisconsin economy as they come out.


We are also offering a technical note that compares the CES and QCEW, two key sources of data on employment that have caused some recent controversy.


To view previous State of Working Wisconsin reports, click here.

Laura Dresser, Michele Mackey, Sigrid Peterson, Jessica Topp | Jul 07, 2012
Category: Jobs & Skills, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy
COWS developed Vital Signs, a regional economic review for the Incourage Community Foundation. This economic analysis summarizes the most recent data to help focus discussions and decision-making on economic opportunity in the south Wood County Area. From schools to employers, wages to social supports, and employment to homelessness, COWS offers data that builds a picture of where south Wood County is, and where it needs to improve.
May 10, 2012
Category: Jobs & Skills, State & Local Policy, Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy
This report details the discrepancy between Wisconsin's current job numbers and those Wisconsin would have achieved had it mirrored national trends.
Apr 17, 2012
Category: Jobs & Skills, Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

This fact sheet from COWS and the Wisconsin Women's Council, released in honor of National Pay Equity Day, shows that despite the growing importance of women’s contribution to the labor force and to household incomes, the gender wage gap stubbornly persists irrespective of age, race, or level of education. In 2010, Wisconsin women earned, on average, only 77.8 cents for every dollar earned by men.

The Wisconsin gap,while significant, is slightly smaller than in 2009 when women earned just 75 cents for each dollar earned by men. Nationally, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research has reported that the decline in the wage gap is mostly due to falling wages for men.

Jayson Chung, Matías Cociña, Laura Dresser | Apr 16, 2012
Category: Jobs & Skills, Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies
Toward College Success for Working Adults provides a clearer picture of the educational trajectory of low-skill adults in the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS). The analysis presents statewide results from a pipeline data study on transition rates, enrollment, and diploma and degree completion for adults accessing a wide variety of basic skills and postsecondary courses and programs at WTCS. This knowlege can help colleges design programs and services that turn more workers into successful college graduates.
Michele Mackey, Sigrid Peterson, Laura Dresser | Mar 08, 2012
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, Jobs & Skills, Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies

Workforce Central is a strategic effort to address the growing workforce and economic challenges facing the community. Key components of their strategy focuses on developing adaptive leadership skills, shifting attitudes, and engaging leaders to work across boundaries.


This independent, local evaluation of its workforce development efforts is commissioned by Incourage Community Foundation’s Workforce Central initiative. This evaluation uses quantitative and qualitative indicators to assess progress towards achieving Workforce Central’s goals and “Ultimate Outcome”.

Mar 05, 2012
Category: Jobs & Skills, Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy
Wisconsin Jobs and Low-Income Working Families looks at the one in four working families in Wisconsin who struggle to get by as well as the tens of thousands of workers whose jobs provide low wages and few benefits. The report was produced by COWS as part of the Working Poor Families Project.
James Irwin, Satya Rhodes-Conway, Sarah L. White, Joel Rogers | Dec 15, 2011
Category: Energy: Energy Efficiency, Energy

Retrofitting the nation’s public and institutional buildings for greater energy efficiency, financing these retrofits from the savings achieved, and requiring local-hire and job and advancement standards for those who do the work can provide the widespread high-road job creation needed in today’s economy. Publicly controlled buildings are an obvious place to focus for a number of reasons.

There are almost 140,000 entities in this sector in the United States, including state and local governments, school districts, colleges and universities, and medical institutions. We estimate that these entities control about 16.5 billion square feet of floor space and use about 3.87 quadrillion BTU a year, at a cost of about $40.7 billion. The estimated cost of upgrading this building stock is between $38.3 billion and $61.2 billion. Such upgrades would save approximately $8.1 billion dollars per year and create between 164,690 and 428,400 FTE. 

This report discusses the financial structures that can be used, the barriers to doing this work, and the policies needed to overcome these barriers and create high-road jobs.

The paper is part of the Big Ideas for Job Creation in a Jobless Recovery project funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the W.E. Kellogg Foundation and organized by the UC-Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Unemployment.

Nov 01, 2011
Category: Jobs & Skills, Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies
Developed by COWS for Regional Industry Skills Education (RISE), Key Middle-Skill Opportunities in Wisconsin provides a detailed look at projected job opportunities and wages in well-paying occupations that typically do not require a four-year college degree.