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Wisconsin: Forward – But for Whom?

Wither Wisconsin?  That question has implications far beyond the fate of a man named Trump and the party that does not seem to know what to do with him.  The question has much to do with the state and the way it has been progressing.  As usual, our Store Front Index shows the state in stark relief against its peers and the nation as a whole.  In the case of the state whose motto is a simple one: Forward, the direction has been … forward.

The trend among these businesses – those that line the main streets and side streets of the local communities — has been a heartening one, where once the growth had severely lagged that of the broader nation and the region for much of the Store Front’s business tracking in years stretching back to 2007, while a fast forward to the most recent and present few quarters shows positive momentum, that is, a reading above the 100 mark, and off a nadir, right in the teeth of the recession of ’96.

So when we say forward, that’s in terms of absolute growth, though the rates have been a bit behind the larger backdrops.  In the most recent reading, for the second quarter, 106.8 is nothing to sneeze at, and in fact marks the highest level the state has attained in the index.  Still, that pales in reference to the 112.9 logged for the nation as a whole.

Getting a bit more granular, the most noteworthy data point that comes for Wisconsin was the actual creation of businesses, coming in at 5.9 percent — an eye-popping stat in the fact that it more than doubles the 2 percent seen both in the region as a whole and also the national average, with those larger canvasses dripping along like a second rate Pollock.

Real wages also outclassed the broader trends, with 5.2 percent in the second quarter, compared to the Midwest region posting 4.7 percent growth, as compared to 4.9 percent growth for the nation as a whole.  The actual growth in jobs, however, has lagged a bit, with the latest data (released early last month) coming in at 2.5 percent, below the 2.6 percent seen in the region and also the 3.1 percent for the nation. There’s reason to believe the lagging effect will continue, with the U.S. Government’s quarterly census of employment and wages standing in for the third quarter at 2.2 nationally, whereas the state itself came in only at 1.2 percent – and thus, as measured by job growth, Wisconsin ranks 36th in all states as measured by job creation, stretching back over a timeframe measured by 12 months.

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