Benchmarks - WI Report Card Measuring Success: Benchmarks for a Competitive Wisconsin 2012

May 2012  •  Vol. May 2012
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  • Summary
  • Press Release
  • This annual Wisconsin report card provides the most up-to-date figures available on key measures of the state's economy and culture. There is no other publication that provides this information all in one place.

    This handy, pocket-size book has been published annually since 1998.  It's prepared by WISTAX on behalf of Competetive Wisconsin, a consortium of state leaders in agriculture, business, education and labor. 

    In 50+ pages, the book tracks Wisconsin's progress on 34 measures in six areas -- economic health; quality of life; workforce excellence; public sector; business climate, and environmental quality.

    Each measure is reported as a measure against previous years and in comparison to neighboring states. The 2012 edition reports the latest available data from 2010-2011. It is professionally printed and bound with a color cover.


  • Dale J. Knapp or Todd A. Berry

    New State Report Card Shows Start of Income Rebound

    Wisconsin’s Competitiveness Tracked, Compared to Neighbor States

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    MADISON—Wisconsin’s per capita income rose 4.8% in 2011, the largest increase in five years. That is one of the bright spots in the state’s new report card, “Measuring Success: Benchmarks for a Competitive Wisconsin,” prepared annually by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) for Competitive Wisconsin, Inc. (CWI).

    According to Scott VanderSanden, CWI President, “Competitive Wisconsin has long supported an economic development strategy that would help Wisconsin match Minnesota’s per capita personal income. In recent years, Wisconsin has closed the gap with Minnesota by 13% (or around $700) from $5,294 in 2008 to $4,600 in 2011.”

    CWI’s annual report card also found that, for the first time since 2007, Wisconsin employment (measured annually) in 2011 rose by 0.4%. Manufacturing, the state’s leading economic sector, accounted for 16.1% of total state employment, the highest share in three years. The state’s unemployment rate also fell from 8.5% in 2010 to 7.5% in 2011.

    Report card findings on the state’s business climate were mixed. The number of new private businesses in the state dropped for the fourth time in five years, falling 0.8% in 2010 (the most recent year available). Venture capital investments in Wisconsin also declined from $43.97 per worker in 2010 to $26.11 in 2011.

    The report card suggests that the state’s workforce continues to be an asset. Students generally performed well on national assessments and graduated from high school at above-average rates. Wisconsin also made progress in adding college graduates, as the percentage of residents age 25 or older with a bachelor’s degree increased from 25.7% in both 2008 and 2009 to 26.3% in 2010. That said, Wisconsin’s percentage of college grads remains below the national average and trails both Illinois and Minnesota. Less positive findings were reported in the area of doctoral work in the sciences. For the second consecutive year, the number of science PhD’s awarded per million residents fell.

    The report card also examined public sector performance, where debt, regulation, and taxes can affect state competitiveness. Wisconsinites paid 11.9% of personal income in state-local taxes and fees in 2010-11, up from 11.7% in 2009-10 and 11.3% in 2008-09.

    As of early 2012, the state’s bond ratings also remain low, and they are unchanged since being reduced in the early 2000s. Among the states rated by Moody’s, 32 have higher bond ratings than Wisconsin. One contributor to state bond ratings is the persistent GAAP deficit reported on state financial statements since 1990. Nationally, only California, Illinois, and New York had larger GAAP deficits than Wisconsin in 2010.

    Competitive Wisconsin—a consortium of state leaders in business, education, and other fields—originated the “Measuring Success” report card in 1997 in response to a recommendation from a gubernatorial commission. The report covers six categories: economic health, quality of life, workforce excellence, public sector, business climate, and environmental quality. In each area, state performance is compared with years past and with other states in the region. The report is prepared by the research staff at WISTAX, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization devoted to public-policy research and citizen education.

    Copies of the 52-page report are available directly from WISTAX for $3.95 (plus tax). Write WISTAX at 401 North Lawn Avenue, Madison, WI 53704-5033; email; visit; or phone 608.241.9789.




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