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After Years Of Hiring, Report Shows Wisconsin Lost Manufacturing Jobs

Wisconsin Lost More Than 4,000 Jobs In 12-Month Period Ending In September 2016

Nam Y. Huh/AP Photo

Wisconsin lost more than 4,000 manufacturing jobs in the 12 months leading up to last September, marking the worst such period for the state since the end of the Great Recession.

Wisconsin was hardly an outlier. A total of 27 states lost manufacturing jobs over the same span, and so did the national economy.

Still, the drop came at a time when Wisconsin was spending nearly $300 million a year to cut manufacturers’ income and corporate taxes in an effort to grow the state’s manufacturing economy.

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“It mostly shows the limited power of politicians and efforts by state government to change economic forces,” said Don Grimes, a labor economist at the University of Michigan. “No political leader if they have looked at the data and understand what’s really going on, should ever bet their future on manufacturing job growth because it’s not going to happen.”

Grimes said that’s largely because manufacturers have improved their productivity to the point that they can make more goods with fewer people.

The job loss figure comes from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which economists regard as the most accurate job metric.

The same employment report showed Wisconsin added 25,562 private sector jobs from September 2015 to September 2016, which ranked 32nd in the nation in overall private sector job growth.