The Wisconsin Outlook: The State Follows the Nation

From the November Wisconsin Economic Outlook (released December 13):

IHS Markit is forecasting a mild recession that starts in the last quarter of 2022 and lasts until the first half of 2023. The forecast expects real GDP to grow 1.8% in 2022 followed by a small decline of 0.2% in 2023, and modest growth of 1.3% in 2024.

The Department of Revenue projects, using IHS Markit’s baseline national forecast of a mild recession the biggest hits to Wisconsin employment in professional and business services employment  (including temp workers), which is very cyclically sensitive, and construction.

Here’s the Department of Revenues’ current forecast for nonfarm payroll employment and for GDP, plotted against actual (with February 2022 Economic Outlook forecasts for comparison):

Figure 1: Wisconsin nonfarm payroll employment (black), Wisconsin Economic Outlook forecast from November (red squares), from February (green squares), all in 000’s, s.a. Source: BLS via FRED and DoR (various issues).

I’m thankful that DoR has resumed providing forecasts since the hiatus implemented under the Scott Walker no-news regime (which lasted 4 years).

Here is Wisconsin GDP:

Figure 2: Wisconsin GDP (black), Wisconsin Economic Outlook forecast from November (red squares), from February (green squares), all in billions Ch.2012$, SAAR. Source: BEA via FRED, DoR (various issues).

As in the nation, forecasts have been downshifted since February. It would not be going to far to say that, to the extent the nation’s outlook deteriorated since Putin’s expanded invasion of the Ukraine, so too has Wisconsin’s.

As an aside, it’s of interest to note how private employment in Wisconsin has evolved, relative to the nation, since Senator Ron Johnson observed “It’s not like we don’t have enough jobs here in Wisconsin”.


Figure 3: Wisconsin private nonfarm payroll employment (blue), and US private nonfarm payroll employment (tan), in logs, 2020M02=0, s.a. NBER defined peak-to-trough recession dates shaded gray. Source: BLS via FRED, and author’s calculations.


9 thoughts on “The Wisconsin Outlook: The State Follows the Nation

  1. pgl

    Well done in Texas it seems like their governor is having another issue with providing electricity:

    Texas Governor Greg Abbott faced backlash Friday after thousands of Texans were left without power due to an arctic blast slamming into the state this week. The storm brought icy temperatures and strong winds to Texas on Friday, straining the state’s power grid and leaving more than 77,000 customers without power. While the storm did not cause widespread blackouts as one did in 2021, some power companies were forced to initiate smaller blackouts to alleviate the power grid’s stress after Texas authorities underestimated demand. The outages added political pressure to Abbott, whose administration has long faced scrutiny over its handling of the power grid. Much of Texas’ power grid, managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), is independent from that of the rest of the United States. Heading into the winter storm, critics raised concerns that the state’s power grid would be left in a vulnerable state due to the frigid temperatures leading to increased power consumption, adding strain to a grid already seen by many as unreliable. However, the power grid largely held up, avoiding massive power failures on Friday—though concerns remain that conditions may worsen throughout the holiday weekend. Power outages were caused by other factors including damage caused by high winds or challenges faced by smaller power operators, rather than widespread issues with the power grid. That did not help Abbott, who faced calls to fix the power grid after the 2021 crisis, avoid scrutiny over the power outages as critics said it would still be less severe with a more reliable power grid. “Just a reminder that @GregAbbott_TX hasn’t done a damn thing all year to strengthen the Texas power grid. As we face down this brutal freeze, thousands have already lost power,” tweeted biologist Imogene Cancellare.

    The governor’s chief energy advisor CoRev better up hope the WEATHER quickly alleviates the problem created by CoRev’s incompetent advice.

  2. Moses Herzog

    I don’t know how Menzie got that Christmas tree in Figure 1 to keep upright, and the lights arrangement is rather freaky.

  3. James

    I sometimes wonder what the Wisconsin economy would be like if the WIGOP would allow the state to take additional $1.3 billion a year in ACA Medicaid expansion funding – like the WI Dems and Gov Evers wants? It would improve healthcare outcomes for our aging population.
    Also it would be helpful if the WIGOP were to spend the $6.6 billion surplus on roads, infrastructure, high-speed rail, schools, local police and EM services as the federal govt. intended. No, the WIGOP would rather create a flat income tax for their donors and send our state budget into a Southern state-type downward spiral.
    U.S. economic history during the past 50 years has shown that Republicans can not be trusted with money.

      1. James

        Yes Moses – everyday for the past ten years + I have lived in the most gerrymandered state in the Union.
        What I find interesting as I travel the state for my day job – I frequently encounter people who will tell me – “It’s those people down in Madison that are defunding our local schools!” And – time and again – I say “But the Joint Finance Committee – on which your local Rep sits – controls the state budget and that Committee is controlled by the WIGOP – and they decide what gets funded – not me.” Of course – the local rep is out there saying “It those hippies down in Madison!” And he then claims he needs to be reelected to clean out all the hippies in Madison (of which, there are very few!). Rinse and repeat – year after year – it is what keeps people voting R.
        There is hope that we can get another non-partisan judge on state Supreme Court in upcoming Spring election rather than a WIGOP hack – and maybe get some fair maps.
        By the way – I warn people that they will not like gerrymandered maps – the rep doesn’t have to respond to voters or to even work – for example – WIGOP – has been in session for a couple of months total in the past four years – just gravel in – vote down or refuse to even debate any Gov Evers initiative. To me – it’s stupid because it holds the whole state back.

        1. Moses Herzog

          I hope I didn’t tick you off by “preaching to the choir”. I just, I thought it’s still interesting to see it laid out, and I believe they change that map (if indeed it changes any for the good) as things roll along, so thought you might take interest. I live in “the reddest state in the nation”. In other words people here are SO DUMB and the public education system is so bad (perennially bottom 5 of the 50 states) Republicans don’t even need to gerrymander for the most part. So I know you don’t wanna hear this, but in the sense you have some smart people in Wisconsin (as opposed to the roughly 3 smart people living in my state), count your blessings. At least you can hunt down those 5 people at Panera or the local diner of a small college town (Madison, Eau Claire, etc) to make intelligent convo with. I have to create an imaginary friend who likes to nostalgically discuss FDR, Brandeis, Walter Mondale, Adlai Stevenson, Al Franken, Carl Albert, Paul Simon, Ted Sorenson, Rostenkowski as I drink a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee or listen to NPR. My imaginary friend “Biff” knows all my favorites. : )

          1. Moses Herzog

            Oops, “Biff” just told me I forgot Barney Frank. This is why it’s useful to have imaginary friends with the same political inclinations.

  4. Econned

    For the sake of completeness: Senator Ron Johnson observed “It’s not like we don’t have enough jobs here in Wisconsin. The biggest problem we have in Wisconsin right now is employers not being able to find enough workers.”

    1. Moses Herzog

      Did you think Republican Johnson should retire from political office and fill in Wisconsin’s demand for workers?? I doubt he’d last two days at McDonalds.

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