Compared against Minnesota, Kansas, California, and the Nation
Figure 1: Log nonfarm payroll employment for Minnesota (bold blue), Wisconsin (bold red), Kansas (green), California (teal) and US (black), all normalized to 2007M12=0. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Green shading denotes data that does not incorporate Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages information post-September 2014. Source: BLS, NBER, author’s calculations.
While Wisconsin has recently experienced some acceleration in measured employment growth, it’s important to note that that has occurred during a period not incorporating recent Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data; recall, this is the data source that Governor Walker touted as much more reliable (it is) before he ceased citing it as more reliable. My most recent check of the data indicates that if one were to use the QCEW data to update the BLS establishment series, reported employment would be lower (see this post).
Here’s overall economic activity, as summarized by the Philadelphia Fed’s coincident index.
Figure 2: Log coincident indices for Minnesota (bold blue), Wisconsin (bold red), Kansas (green), California (teal) and US (black), all normalized to 2007M12=0, and forecasted values for 2016M03 using leading indices. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: Philadelphia Fed (September release), NBER, author’s calculations.
Interestingly, the two bottom performing states are fully controlled (legislature, governorship) by Republicans. The top performing state (California) is fully controlled by Democrats.
An alternative way of assessing Wisconsin performance is to examine where Wisconsin should be, based upon historical (pre-Walker) correlations summarized using an error correction model, and compare it with where it actually is. That depressing story is recounted here.
A final point: In September, Wisconsin employment is over 26,000 below the February 2015 peak. Fortunately, Governor Walker has assured us that Wisconsin is moving in the right direction.
(Latest mass layoff notifications here).