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Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership and COWS | Jun 04, 2013
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, COWS, Jobs & Skills, Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy
The reinvigoration of manufacturing presents Milwaukee with a real opportunity. And the manufacturing opportunity could provide an answer to some of the city’s most ruinous problems, especially the economic isolation of the central city population. Manufacturing Better Opportunity & A Stronger Economy provides key data on manufacturing in Milwaukee and the problems which the central city community confronts. Additionally, it discusses the work that the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/BIG STEP has done and will continue doing in order to build a stronger bridge from community to manufacturers throughout the region.
COWS | Apr 04, 2013
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, Jobs & Skills, State & Local Policy, Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies

Pathways to Competitiveness: Some Guidelines for Successful Workforce Investment in Wisconsin highlights the best of recently proposed investments in the state's workforce and offers ideas on how to maximize them to promote economic competitiveness — namely, by building on Wisconsin's nationally acclaimed efforts to forge a more functional labor market through career pathways and industry partnerships. Specifically, we offer our recommendations on key workforce investments in the biennial budget proposal and "Fast Forward" legislation that can advance business and family prosperity in Wisconsin. 

John Cleveland, Innovation Network for Communities, and James Irwin, COWS | Jan 07, 2013
Category: COWS, Energy: Energy Efficiency

This report presents recommendations on potential high impact philanthropic
investments to advance deep building energy efficiency improvements at scale within
the healthcare sector. It is one of five reports being developed for a coalition of six
philanthropies that are collaborating to see what they - and others - might do to rapidly
increase and scale the energy efficiency retrofit market for buildings in the United States.


These philanthropies are the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Energy Foundation,
Kresge Foundation, Living Cities, MacArthur Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation.
The other sectors for which market development strategies are being developed include:
commercial office, commercial retail, single-family residential, and multifamily residential.


In the summer of 2012, expert panels of 10-12 individuals were convened for each of
these sub-segments. These panels developed recommendations on priority approaches
and research needs for each sector. The recommendations in this and the other
segment reports build upon these initial ideas.

The process used to develop these recommendations included background research on
energy efficiency strategies for the healthcare sector and interviews with 33 participants
in the sector, representing healthcare systems, NGOs, trade associations, service
providers and utilities. The interviews solicited feedback on the recommendations from
the expert panel as well as other ideas the interviewees had on how to advance this

COWS and the Wisconsin Budget Project | Nov 26, 2012
Category: Jobs & Skills, State & Local Policy, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

The income disparity between Wisconsin’s richest and poorest families continues to widen, according to Pulling Apart 2012, a new report by COWS and the Wisconsin Budget Project. This analysis of Wisconsin Department of Revenue data finds that Wisconsin’s richest residents have experienced dramatic increases in inflation-adjusted income since the mid-1990s, while middle- and lower-income Wisconsinites saw their incomes stagnate or decrease.


Between 1996 and 2010, the bottom 40 percent of Wisconsin earners experienced an average decrease of $2,407 in their adjusted gross income, measured in 2012 dollars. The top fifth of income tax filers saw an increase in earnings of more than $17,000 over this period.

Oct 22, 2012
Category: State & Local Policy

Within cities, residents face stark disparities in their access to fresh, healthy produce, with low-income communities often the most affected by this limited access. Inequitable access to food perpetuates poor health outcomes among low-income populations and undermines efforts to improve public health and promote community. The increase in diet-related diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers have put us on a path to change modern history: many children born today will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. In addition to nutritional and health impacts, the flow of food dollars out of some regions represents a significant loss for local economies. Our small farmers have been pushed to the limit of their livelihood.


This policy brief by COWS' Mayors Innovation Project looks at bright spots of innovation, where local policies promote and increase residents’ access to healthy food. While there is no single solution to address the problem of unequal access to affordable, healthy food, there are a range policy strategies that can help develop local food capacities, enhance public health, and improve urban economies.

Sep 28, 2012
Category: Transportation

With DOT budget shortfalls growing, traditional means of delivering transportation services no longer meet today’s needs, and they are incapable of launching tomorrow’s economy.


While change is daunting, it is both essential and possible—as those who have done it can attest. States and their DOTs are improving services in the short term and planning effectively for the long term. They have adopted innovative yet pragmatic policy reforms, and are reevaluating and retooling traditional practices. Their success offers a path forward for others.


COWS' State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) has teamed up with Smart Growth America to create a resource to inform senior state-level transportation officials as they make decisions that position their agencies for success. This handbook of transportation policy and practice for the new economy collects the innovative approaches state leaders are already using to make systems more efficient, government more effective, and constituents better satisfied.

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.