Benchmarks - WI Report Card Measuring Success: Benchmarks for a Competitive Wisconsin 2013

September 2013  •  Vol. 2013
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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 -- The report covers six categories: 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 2013 edition reports the latest available data from 2011-2012. It is professionally printed and bound with a color cover.

  • Dale J. Knapp or Todd A. Berry

    New Report Card: State Economy Makes Positive Moves, More Progress Needed

    Wisconsin’s Competitive Position is Tracked, Compared To Neighboring States

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    These are some of the signs from the state’s just-released yearly report card, Measuring Success: Benchmarks for a Competitive Wisconsin 2013, that suggest Wisconsin’s economy is moving again after the Great Recession. In another encouraging sign, the number of private firms in Wisconsin rose 1.6% in 2011, the first increase since 2008 and almost double the national increase (0.9%). Firm creation is key to job growth, according to much economic research, since new jobs are mostly created by young and small businesses.

    Few report cards show all "A’s," and Wisconsin’s is no different. Although the average wage here grew 11.3% (to $47,248) during 2006-11, compared to 10.2% for the U.S., it remained 12% below the national norm. And, as it has for decades, per capita income in the Badger State continued to lag the U.S. by 5.1%.

    Despite falling joblessness, the report card shows mixed results on the jobs front. In 2012, Wisconsin employment grew 0.9%, compared to 1.7% nationally and at least 1.2% in the four surrounding states. That said, Wisconsin outperformed in manufacturing; job numbers climbed 2.2% here vs. 1.6% elsewhere.

    Competitive Wisconsin—a consortium of state leaders in business, education, labor, and other fields—originated the Measuring Success report card in 1998 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 research staff at the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to public-policy research and citizen education.

    The job and income measures reported here reveal the improving position of Wisconsin’s economy during 2011-12, but the new report card also focuses on important building blocks for future economic success:

    • Good roads and highways are critical for getting materials to producers and products to market. In a new development, Wisconsin’s overall road quality appears to be slipping. Only 40.6% of state highway miles in 2011 were rated in one of the top two smoothness categories. That was down from 57.7% in 2009, and below the national average of 56.0%.
    • High school graduation rates rose—for the third consecutive year—to 86.8%, compared to 70.1% for the nation. However, average college entrance exam scores have fallen slightly in recent years. The percent of the state’s population with a bachelor’s degree is up slightly to 26.5% but remains below the national average (28.5%).
    • Energy costs remain important for many industries. During 2009 and 2010, Wisconsin’s natural gas prices declined from $11.76 per million British thermal units (Btus) to $9.34. However, due partly to recent investment in new plants, electricity prices rose from $26.38 per million Btus to $28.66. Despite the increase, electricity prices here are slightly below the national average.
    • Often, young companies with high potential turn to venture capital firms for funds necessary to sustain growth. In 2012, Wisconsin companies received an average of $34.23 per worker in venture capital, an increase of 6.5% over the past five years. However, the state remains below the national average ($200.94 per worker) and below all neighboring states, except Iowa.

    Copies of the 54-page report, Measuring Success: Benchmarks for a Competitive Wisconsin 2013, are available directly from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance for $3.95 (plus tax) with discounts for WISTAX members and donors. Visit; email; write WISTAX at 401 North Lawn Avenue, Madison, WI 53704-5033; or phone 608.241.9789.

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