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Chris McCahill and Satya Rhodes-Conway | May 20, 2015
Category: State & Local Policy, Transportation
Parking has been a contentious policy focus in cities and towns around the United States for decades. Residents, visitors, and business owners often lament what they see as parking shortages or unfair prices. Meanwhile, surface lots and parking garages have chipped away at once vibrant urban centers, taking up what is often the most valuable land in the region. Undoubtedly, parking is an important asset to many American cities and, as such, should be viewed as an integral piece of the each city’s transportation and land use system. However, like any land use or any piece of transportation infrastructure, it must be managed properly to ensure it works efficiently and adds value to the community. City officials can accomplish this by leveraging municipally owned parking—both on-street and off—and by regulating and taxing privately owned parking.
H-CAP and COWS | May 06, 2015
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, COWS, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies
Across the country, Healthcare Training Funds – joint programs of labor and management, bargained and administered at the local and regional level – have developed an impressive and growing core of work. From a core of SEIU locals and employers, mostly from the hospital sector, H-CAP and the related H-CAP Education Association (EA), have convened a network that has grown into a force with reach, experience, and impact not conceived of when the project began. The participating partnerships and training funds/organizations in aggregate now reach 900 healthcare providers in every setting of healthcare – from home health, to long term care, to clinics and hospitals – and nearly 600,000 workers from every occupational level in the healthcare industry. This paper provides an introduction to one of workforce development's most innovative programs across the nation.

Joel Rogers | Mar 26, 2015
Category: High Road

"Productive Democracy," The Nation (150th Anniversary Issue) 400 (April 6, 2015): 206-210.


Why we need a new egalitarian politics - and why a social democracy will never get us there.

Wisconsin Budget Project and COWS | Jan 27, 2015
Category: Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

Wisconsin’s growth and prosperity are not being widely shared. Over the last 40 years, Wisconsin’s richest residents have experienced dramatic increases in income, while Wisconsinites not among the very highest earners saw little or no income growth. In 2012, Wisconsin reached a milestone, with a record share of income going to the top 1%.


Full report HERE.

Laura Dresser, Michele Mackey, and Chris Reynolds | Dec 17, 2014
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, COWS, Jobs & Skills, State & Local Policy, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies

Vital Signs 2014 is 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 growth and opportunity in south Wood County. From schools to employers, wages to social supports, and employment to homelessness, COWS offers data that provides a shared understanding of where south Wood County is, and where it can improve.


View Vital Signs 2013 and Vital Signs 2012 here.

Sarah White and Todd Cohen | Dec 02, 2014
Category: COWS, State & Local Policy

This guide frames a broad public-private conversation on climate resiliency, community health, and economic inclusiveness. Developed by COWS in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges’ Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) Center, Climate Resiliency & The Community College defines climate resilience and its implications for jobs and training; outlines emerging opportunities to engage in related work; and lifts up examples of innovation and best practice across a variety of economic sectors, including health, energy, water, and emergency response.


Laura Chenven and Laura Dresser | Nov 14, 2014
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, COWS
Since 2008, Washington State has invested more than $11 million dollars in Hospital Employee Education and Training (HEET) projects to advance health care workers’ careers. This report takes a step back from the day-to-day operation and programs and take a broader view of HEET. With the perspective provided by multiple projects and partners on the ground, HEET adds up to much more than a simple count of students trained. At its core, the innovation of HEET is the partnership of labor, management, and education. Most of the impressive educational and student support strategies that have come from HEET are generated, forged, leveraged, and supported in that partnership. HEET has profoundly transformed workers lives. HEET has transformed systems as well, with innovations cascading out to change education and workforce development throughout the state. This paper takes stock of the overall meaning and impact of six years of HEET based on review of existing annual evaluations and retrospective interviews with dozens of leaders, stakeholders, and implementers of HEET projects.
Laura Dresser, Jody Knauss, Matías Cociña and EPI | Oct 08, 2014
Category: Jobs & Skills, High Road, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

Raise the Floor Wisconsin

New Report Calls Higher Minimum Wage to Counter Epidemic of Poverty-Wage Work

There is a crisis of poverty-wage work in Wisconsin. 700,000 Wisconsinites, one of every four workers in the state, earns less than $11.36 per hour - the wage required for a full-time, full-year worker to keep a family of four out of poverty - according to a new report from Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).


The report, Raise the Floor Wisconsin – Minimum Wage Edition, helps draw a more complete picture of poverty-wage work in Wisconsin, using federal data to highlight problems in the labor market, the workers that stands to gain from a higher minimum wage, the jobs these workers hold, and the real costs of living that Wisconsinites face. The report also challenges the argument that raising the minimum wage is bad for business.

Jody Knauss, Laura Dresser | Oct 01, 2014
Category: Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies

High quality childcare is an essential foundation for a strong community. Yet the largely private system of American childcare often falls short: the quality of care is often lower than parents, communities and the children themselves need; the cost is often too high for parents; and the wages paid to the dedicated workforce taking care of our babies, toddlers, and preschoolers are too low to retain high quality early educators.

Raising the Quailty of Childcare, a COWS report, looks at three projects.

  1. Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP)
    Milwaukee, WI 
  2. Hospital Employee Education and Training Program (HEET)
    Washington State
  3. TEACH/WAGE$ for Childcare Workers
    North Carolina
Aug 30, 2014
Category: COWS, Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

Download State of Working Wisconsin 'By the Numbers'


The State of Working Wisconsin 2014 uses the best and recent data available on jobs and wages to describe the serious economic challenges that Wisconsin continues to face:


A Significant Wisconsin Jobs Deficit

Wisconsin needs 130,400 jobs today to get back to the 2007 level of employment, taking into account the shortfall (WI jobs still 21,900 below 2007), plus jobs needed to accommodate population growth since then (108,500).


Slower than National Job Growth

Over the course of the recovery, Wisconsin lagged behind the national job growth rate (4.0 v. 6.1%). That means every time national growth should have given Wisconsin three jobs, the state added just two. WI would have 58,000 more jobs today if state jobs had grown at the national rate.


Wisconsin’s Severe Racial Inequality

Wisconsin African American unemployment (15 percent) is 2.8 times higher than Wisconsin’s white unemployment rate (5.4 percent). Only three states (MN, NE, and LA) and Washington DC posted higher levels of black/white disparity.

Long- Term Stagnation of the Median Wage

The annual hourly real wage increase for the median worker (1979-2013). Taking inflation into account, the median wage grew by just 50¢ from $16.50 in 1979 to $17.00 per hour in 2013. (Wages expressed in 2013 $s.) The median wage has ticked up in the last few years but remains below the pre-recssion high.


Gender Gap Closing (Slowly)

The gender gap has narrowed in the last few decades. In 1979, at the median, for every dollar a man earned, women earned 59 cents. By 2013, women earned 82 cents. The shrinking gap is the result of an increase in women’s wages and declining wages for men (with those declines concentrated in the 1980s and early 90s).


Continued Decline of  Defining Sector

Manufacturing employment has fallen from 600,000 in 2000 to 466,000 in 2014 leaving fewer than four workers employed in manufacturing today for every five employed in 2000. It is true that manufacturing has produced jobs in the recovery, but not at rates that will get us back to levels of the past. And despite these losses, Wisconsin remains consistently among the top of states in terms of manufacturing employment.


Act 10 Aftermath

Given the structure of Act 10, it is no surprise that Wisconsin’s public sector unionization rate is falling. The state’s public sector unionization rate has fallen from over 50 percent, to 35 percent. The decline in Dane County is much more dramatic with public sector unionzation falling in half over just one year, from 55 percent in 2011 to 26 percent in 2012. 


Previous State of Working Wisconsin Reports Here>