Wisconsin losing its competitive edge says group
There are some troubling signs in Wisconsin's ability to compete, according to the nonpartisan group Competitive Wisconsin.
The group recently issued its 10th annual report called "Measuring Success: Benchmark for a Competitive Wisconsin," which grades the state in 33 areas of interstate competitiveness.
The report is based on figures from 2006.
The report found that out of the 33 benchmarks used each year 17 had changed with the state improving in eight, but declining in nine.
What the group found most troubling was a continued decline in the state's per capita income which is $34,476 while the national average is $36,629.
Wisconsin also trails Minnesota, where the per capita income is $38,751.
The state also showed a decline in new private businesses which dropped 0.4 percent, while the national rate increased by 2.5 percent, according to he report.
Also dropping was the number of new jobs created in the state.
The report showed that the state saw a 0.7 percent drop in new jobs which far below the national average of 1.8 percent.
Fortunately, one of the positive signs in the report was the amount of venture capital coming into the state to help create new jobs which rose for the third-straight year.
The report found that the amount of venture capitol per worker has risen to $25.27, up from $13.57 in 2003.
"Wisconsin is moving in the right direction," said Tom O'Neill, CWI president. "In three years, Wisconsin nearly doubled its venture capital investment per worker."
The report noted another positive sign was in the amount of exports.
The benchmarks report found that Wisconsin's exports rose for the fifth straight year and grew 15 percent in 2006.
Also on the positive side of the benchmarks were the number of state residents with health care coverage.
The report found that the state is well ahead of the rest of the nation in this category with just 8.8 percent of Wisconsinites without coverage.
The national average is 15.8 percent and Minnesota is at 9.2 percent.
While the report found that the state has a quality workforce it did show one warning sign - the number of Wisconsinites with a college education dropped for the second year in a row.
The report also found that the state and local tax burden in the state was well-above the national average. Wisconsinites paid 12.2 percent of their personal income to state and local taxes in 2006-07.
Despite the high tax rate, the number of public employees per 1,000 residents fell to 51.8 in 2006.
The entire report can be read online at www.competitivewi.com.
The report was prepared by researchers from the Wisconsin Taxpayer's Alliance at www.wistax.org