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Joel Rogers | Jan 27, 2016
Category: COWS, High Road
“Foreword: Federalism Bound,” Harvard Law & Policy Review 10.2 (2016): 281-297.
Jan 05, 2016
Category: COWS, State & Local Policy, Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

After a substantial increase in jobs over September and October – Wisconsin added 17,000 jobs over those two months – the state lost 4800 jobs in November. November losses thus take away nearly one one-third of the jobs created in the previous months.


Over the course of 2015, Wisconsin has added roughly 20,000 jobs. Compared to employment before the recession began, Wisconsin is now consistently above the 2007 benchmark. Given populaion growth in the state since 2007, however, the labor market still falls well short of the level of opportunity provided in 2007. Wisconsin still needs another 106,000 jobs for labor market opportunity to have expanded enough to provide opportunity to the growing population. 


View Job Watch Archives

Dec 14, 2015
Category: Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

Jobs data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show an increase of 16,000 jobs in Wisconsin this past month. While statistics are subject to monthly revisions, and the exact figure might change, this substantial increase is significant and likely to remain the best month for job growth of 2015. This increase in jobs is very good news for the Badger State which has been on a weak trajectory since the recovery began. Wisconsin now is firmly and consistently posting a job count well in excess of the number of jobs the state had on the eve of the Great Recession (December 2007).


Because the population has grown since the Great Recession, just getting back to the 2007 job base doesn’t provide the same sense of opportunity, however. For the labor market to provide the same level of opportunity for our current population, the state job market is still 95,000 jobs short. In fact, even if this strong rate of job growth were maintained –a difficult feat in itself–the state is still half a year from recovering to the level of opportunity in 2007.


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Dec 01, 2015
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, Jobs & Skills
In response to the federal Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA), most states are now in the latter stages of developing federally required plans and policies for operating their systems of workforce development under WIOA. This process creates an unprecedented opportunity to build into each state’s plan concrete ideas for using state and local workforce policy and practice to boost job quality. By developing new policies that help local boards connect workers to the best possible jobs, and supporting employers – individually and in partnerships – with efforts to improve jobs, WIOA implementation can create a “high road in workforce development.” It can make workforce systems an enduring force for better job quality.
This brief proposes three concrete disbursement policies that allow for more effective and focused use of WIOA resources, by ensuring that employer partners are the best possible fit for job seekers in the system.

For more on job quality in WIOA, view article published in National Association of Workforce Development Professionals newsletter, December 2015, page 5.
Chris McCahill, Norman Garrick, Carol Atkinson-Palombo, Adam Polinski | Nov 13, 2015
Category: Transportation

Automobile use has been on the rise in cities for nearly a century and so has the supply of parking. Because driving often seems unavoidable, policymakers, developers and the public push endlessly for more parking to meet demand. That push, however, might only be making matters worse.


new study on the subject, co-written by Chris McCahill from our own State Smart Transportation Initiative, strongly suggests that abundant parking in cities causes people to drive more, shedding important light on the question of cause and effect. 


Admittedly, this isn’t a new idea. For the past several decades, a handful of researchers have studied the purveyance of free parking in the U.S., its hidden costs, and its effects on travel behavior. By examining individual streets, buildings and neighborhoods, study after study has shown that people respond to the price and availability of parking by adjusting their driving habits. That’s especially true in cities, where there are usually more options for getting around.


Yet as cities grow, more often than not, so do their parking supplies. City records that we uncovered in an earlier study show policymakers demanding more parking year after year, even as they worry about the impacts it could have on the built environment and car use. And so we’ve been left to wonder whether cities are simply adapting to the automobile in order to grow, or perpetuating urban automobile use. Read more in the full report above.

Oct 30, 2015
Category: Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

The upward trend in Wisconsin continued in September. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Wisconsin added 1,400 jobs that month. The pace of job growth in September was much slower than that established in the previous two months when Wisconsin added14,000 (in July) and 7,000 jobs (in August). Still it is good to see consistently positive numbers, even if a slow pace. In Wisconsin, eight years after the beginning of the Great Recession, the number of jobs is, at last, defintely and consistently above the pre-recession level.


However, since the population of the state has grown steadily since the end of the recession, our labor market still has not fully recovered. If we aspire to the same level of opportunity that Wisconsin had before the recession we need to create jobs on pace with population growth. As our job market has not kept pace, Wisconsin still shows a deficit of 102,000 jobs. 


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Laura Dresser | Oct 19, 2015
Category: COWS, Jobs & Skills, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies
Care workers—including providers of both child care and hands-on direct care supporting the elderly and people with disabilities—number 5.5 million and are employed in some of the fastest growing and lowest paying jobs in the American economy. Their “priceless” work, of such critical importance to families and society, rarely offers more than miserable wages and shoddy benefits. Improving these jobs and securing a decent standard of care requires fundamentally and dramatically reshaping the nation’s understanding of what care work is, what it is worth, and how to pay for it. 

Raising job quality and the standard of care requires a substantial infusion of public money and a simple and direct means of delivering that investment directly to care workers. To get there, we will need to connect to and build upon the important work already being done by coalitions on care work throughout the nation. Child care and health care workers, as well as their advocates and unions, need to be increasingly connected to city and state minimum wage campaigns to ensure that care workers are covered by increases, and to begin securing public and private resources needed to make higher wages for care workers a reality. These connections can provide a foundation to build stronger and more comprehensive community care work infrastructure that can identify, organize, and rationalize the work; develop systems to provide health insurance or other benefits directly to care workers; and build the case, constituency, and infrastructure for the transformation of these jobs.

This paper is released as part of the Roosevelt Institute's larger report, Blueprint to Empower Workers to Shared Prosperity, October 7, 2015.
Oct 08, 2015
Category: Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

Wisconsin’s unsteady labor market finally added jobs in July which offers good news in the face of the decline in jobs since March. In June, Wisconsin had the same number of jobs that it had at the beginning of the 2015 which was also and finally the same as number the state had before the recession began (December 2007). Over the last two months of summer, July and August 2015, some 20,000 jobs were added in the state. Wisconsin is now solidly above pre-recession levels, and also hopefully on a consistently positive job growth path as well. It is good news that Wisconsin’s labor market is finally larger than it was nearly 8 years ago. Still, the potential labor force in the state is much larger than it was in the past, and the jobs we have today are not sufficient to keep up with our population growth. As Figure and Table 1 make clear, Wisconsin still faces a significant jobs deficit and needs stronger growth to fill that gap. In order to simply provide the same opportunity that we had in 2007, Wisconsin’s “jobs deficit” now stands at around 102,000 jobs.


Wisconsin Job Watch Archives>>

Laura Dresser and Chris Reynolds | Sep 23, 2015
Category: COWS, State & Local Policy, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

This report analyzes paid family leave insurance could look like in Wisconsin. Paid leave insurance allows workers to take short-term paid leave in order to care for their families without fear of losing their jobs or significant loss of income. This is a policy that helps workers balance both work and family, and programs are already well established in California and New Jersey. Building off the experience in those two states, we estimate utilization and financing for a Paid Leave Insurance program for the state. Such a program would likely grow to support some 100,000 working Wisconsinites each year and could be supported by a premium on wages of 0.4 percent.

Paid leave is especially critical for the nearly three-in-ten working families in the state who have low income (below twice the poverty line) in spite of their strong commitment to work. For these families, sick and vacation leave is stingy or nonexistent, reliable day care for children or adults is prohibitively expensive, and workers themselves are more likely to have health challenges.

In this report, we draw on the experience of other states to simulate the costs and benefits of a prospective paid family leave insurance program in the state. Our work suggests that, with a modest premium on employee wages, a program could be designed that could support working families in the state when family needs are most pronounced. We hope that this data can help make the idea of paid leave insurance more concrete and the choices—and their associated costs and benefits—more clear.
Laura Dresser and Joel Rogers, with Javier Rodriguez and Siying Fu | Sep 04, 2015
Category: Jobs & Skills, State & Local Policy, Wisconsin

The State of Working Wisconsin 2015For Labor Day weekend, COWS has released The State of Working Wisconsin 2015 Facts & Figures, an overview of the critical issues facing working people in the state. From the perspective of working Wisconsin, the news this weekend is not good. Wisconsin faces slow growth, extreme racial disparity in unemployment, long-term stagnation in wages, and one-fourth of workers struggling in poverty-wage jobs.


Further highlights from the report:


Missing Jobs: 90,000

If Wisconsin had enjoyed the same rate of job growth as the rest of the nation across the course of the recovery, the state would have 90,000 more jobs today.


Nation’s Worst Black Unemployment Rate: One-in-five

Wisconsin posted the nation’s highest unemployment rate for African Americans in 2014: 19.9 percent. That rate is 4.6 times higher than the white unemployment rate.


Average Annual Raise: $0.02 per hour

Wisconsin’s median worker now earns $17.38 per hour. Over the last 35 years, the inflation adjusted median wage for workers in Wisconsin has gone up just $0.71 per hour. That’s an annual raise of just $0.02/hour.


Women’s Median Wage Relative to Men’s: $0.81

In 2014, the ratio of women’s to men’s median wages was $0.81, meaning that for every one dollar a man made, a woman made $0.81.


The Low Wage Grind: Over One-in-Four Workers

More than 1 in 4 workers who work at an hourly wage of $11.55 or lower, even full-time and year-round, cannot keep a family of four out of poverty. 730,000 Wisconsin workers – 27 percent of the entire state workforce – hold poverty wage jobs.


Nearly Doubled: Share of Wisconsin Students Economically Disadvantaged


In 2001, one-in-four Wisconsin public school students in Wisconsin were economically disadvantaged. By 2013, that number nearly doubled to 43 percent. Two of every five students in our public schools faces significant financial stress at home.


“We’ve all been hoping for an economic recovery strong enough to lift wages and income,” stated Laura Dresser, Associate Director at COWS, “Unfortunately, we’re just not seeing it in 2015, and this Labor Day, we’re still waiting for good news. But the national momentum toward a minimum wage increase is very good news. And as attention grows around the need to invest in our educational systems, this also holds promise for Wisconsin’s workers and future.”


Since 1996, COWS has released The State of Working Wisconsin every two years on Labor Day. It provides use the best and most recent data available to help build a comprehensive understanding of how working people in the state are doing. The full report comes out in even years. In odd years, like this one, 2015, the report is abbreviated and more focused. 


View previous State of Working Wisconsin reports here.