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COWS | Sep 01, 2013
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, State & Local Policy, Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

The national recovery has been weak. And in Wisconsin, the recovery has lagged behind even the meager pace posted nationally. This Labor Day, COWS has released The State of Working Wisconsin Update 2013, which shows just how much the Wisconsin economy has lagged behind the national pace and the sectors that account for the Wisconsin difference.


We find that Wisconsin would have 33,000 more jobs today if we’d only kept on pace with the national recovery. Since the Wisconsin economy began to grew, we’ve added 99,000 jobs. If Wisconsin had tracked the national recovery, the economy would have added 132,000 jobs. That difference, 33,000 jobs, is a measure of the how Wisconsin lags behind the national trend. To be sure, even that national trend is too weak. But in Wisconsin, we should have 33,000 more jobs today than we do.


Laura Dresser, Michele Mackey, Kathryn Edwards | Jul 01, 2013
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, State & Local Policy, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

COWS produced Vital Signs 2013, 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. 

Laura Dresser | Jun 26, 2013
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, COWS, Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

This report from COWS highlights how raising the low-wage floor will improve quality of life for the 100,000 workers in poverty-wage jobs in the city, and for a roughly equal number of poverty-wage workers in the suburban counties around city. Long term decline was made more brutal by the Great Recession, leaving workers at the mercy of a dramatic shift from manufacturing into services, declining unionization, and falling job quality. Evidence of the economic crisis abounds, yet Milwaukee’s problems — including racial disparity and residential segregation, child poverty, crime and incarceration, catastrophic drop-out rates, especially for African Americans and Hispanics — are not inevitable. They result from increasing economic isolation of the central city and increasingly isolation even of the middle of the labor market from meaningful effects of growth. 

Correction: We regret a data error in the infographic on page 10, 'Low Income and High Poverty'. The correction has been made in the above downloadable document as of August 20, 2013.

COWS | Jun 14, 2013
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, Wisconsin

This report summarizes the accomplishments of and lessons learned from the Wisconsin Industry Partnerships initiative (2008–2012), a project directing state investment of more than six million dollars in concert with dozens of participating employers in order to increase the skills of over 6000 workers in the state. Wisconsin’s IP experience is especially relevant today as leaders turn their attention to building the skills of the state’s workforce.

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.