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Job outlook improving

Kedzie (click for larger version)
May 29, 2012 | 04:38 PM
Things are looking good for Wisconsin right now. Over the last year, we have seen significant gains in the state and local economy. The housing market is rising, personal income is increasing, and more positive news of job growth has come to light. With the economy on the upswing, a brighter future for all of Wisconsin's citizens lay ahead.

The number one issue of the day remains job creation. In Wisconsin, we are making strides each month to reach and maintain positive numbers in this regard. Since the beginning of 2011, Wisconsin has gained more than 30,000 jobs and is on pace to add an additional 25,000 more jobs this year. For the first time since 2007, employment has increased in Wisconsin, with manufacturing jobs leading the way with the highest employment numbers realized in three years.

Each quarter, all employers covered under state or federal unemployment insurance are required to submit reports on staff and wage data in order to comply with tax and unemployment insurance regulations. This data is published by the national Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). Because all employers must report this data, economists consider this QCEW information to be an accurate picture of jobs in the state. Taken from 96% of Wisconsin businesses, the QCEW data shows a gain of over 23,000 jobs in 2011 and 11,000 private jobs thus far in 2012.

Many more new jobs are being added all across the state. In the last month, announcements have been made of companies adding 350 jobs in Neenah, 30 jobs in Manitowoc, 100 jobs in Madison, 39 jobs in Racine and Franksville, 145 jobs in Wauwatosa, and 275 jobs in Brookfield. The state unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in years, and continues to fall. Wisconsin is now one of sixteen states to have a significant drop in unemployment, with a current rate of 6.7%, which is considerably lower than the nation's unemployment rate of 8.1%.

All this good news matches with what job creators have been saying for the last year. In fact, CEO Magazine recently improved Wisconsin's ranking as one of the best states to do business, up four spots from 24th to 20th. That increase is in addition to the huge jump Wisconsin made last year, from 42nd to 24th place. Average income is also on the rise, as per capita income increased by almost 5% in 2011, the largest gain in five years. Compared to other states, Wisconsin now ranks in the top quarter for personal income growth. In the housing market, both home sales and home prices are on the rise. Wisconsin has had ten straight months of double-digit sales growth, and home sales increased nearly 20% last month, compared to a year ago. In southeastern Wisconsin, home sales increased by more than 30%. Although the market has certainly fluctuated over the last few years, home ownership continues to be an attractive investment for families.

The state's budget situation is looking equally good. Last year, the $3.6 billion state budget deficit was eliminated without raising taxes, and while preserving a commitment to core services and programs. This year, tax revenues are doing better than anticipated, another sign of an improving economy. The state is expected to have a budget surplus of $154 million, which is more good news for taxpayers.

Beyond the hype and partisan rhetoric of the last year, the fact is Wisconsin is moving in the right direction. More people are working, the unemployment rate is decreasing, and personal income is growing. Wisconsin stands on firm fiscal ground and will continue down the path of job growth and economic success so long as we in the Legislature keep the jobs picture in our sights and in focus.

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Walworth County