Saturday State News Briefs: State residents making less money on the jobWisconsin News
-- Wisconsinites as a whole appear to be making less money at their jobs. A report prepared for the U.S. Labor Department said average private sector wages for last July through September dropped by 1.2 percent from the same time in 2011.
Wisconsinites as a whole appear to be making less money at their jobs. A report prepared for the U.S. Labor Department said average private sector wages for last July through September dropped by 1.2 percent from the same time in 2011.
Wells Fargo Bank economist Brian Jacobsen said it appears that there’s been a slight move toward lower-paying jobs – and he called that troubling. The same report said Wisconsin created almost 20,500 new jobs in the year ending in September – much less than in previous quarters. The state averaged over 37,000 new jobs on a year-to-year basis as of the last seven quarters before this one. The numbers were prepared for the U.S. Labor Department’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. The full national report is due out later this year. Although the figures are a number of months old, they represent the most complete employment picture, since virtually all employers are surveyed. The monthly unemployment reports survey only a small fraction of companies – and while the numbers get the biggest attention, they’re also subject to heavy revisions later on.
Governors of both parties – including Wisconsin’s Scott Walker – want Congress to take last-minute action next week to avoid huge automatic cuts in federal spending. The so-called “sequester” is due to take effect next Friday – and members of the National Governors Association condemned it when they met in Washington yesterday. They said the latest budget stalemate on Capitol Hill creates new uncertainty, and will threaten economic progress in their states. The Obama White House says the federal cuts may cause numerous flight delays, and put thousands of employees on furloughs. Walker’s not buying the doomsday scenario, but he doesn’t like random across-the-board changes, either. The Republican Walker said he did not use that approach in forming his Wisconsin budget proposal and quote, “I think you should be more strategic.” Both parties in Washington are far apart on a possible deal. Republicans are scoffing at the president’s new demand to include higher taxes in a compromise.
About 260 veteran teachers in Neenah are going to court, to try and win back generous retirement stipends they lost last year. The School Board was allowed to make the move under the 2011 state law which virtually eliminated most teacher union bargaining. School officials said the Neenah district was not able to cover $185-million in unfunded retirement liabilities. So they replaced the average stipends of $170,000 with post-retirement health benefits worth up to $99,000. The payments were on top of the normal benefits offered in the State Retirement System. It allowed teachers hired the 1990’s to retire at age-55 if they worked in Neenah for at least 15 years. The stipends were gradually scaled back for teachers hired in 1998, and again in 2003. Neenah Superintendent Mary Pfeiffer says her district met all its obligations under the last union contract which expired in 2011. But the older teachers said the district promised to keep the stipends going – and that’s why they’re going to court. The lawsuit will seek a total of $61-million, with payments to each plaintiff of $205,000 to $257,000
Milwaukee ended up getting almost five inches of snow from this week’s massive storm that hit the Great Plains, Midwest, and parts of the south. Two Rivers in Manitowoc County reported the most, with seven-and-a-half inches. Scandinavia in Waupaca County had seven-point-two, and Merrillan in Jackson County had seven. Most other parts of the Badger State got 3-to-6 inches – pretty normal compared to the 17 inches the same storm dumped on parts of Kansas and Colorado. The UW College at Manitowoc called off its classes yesterday. Most Fox Valley schools shut down as well – including Green Bay and Appleton. Some places in Wisconsin still had lingering snow and flurries during the night – but most of it has headed east. Scattered snow showers are in the statewide forecast for today, with highs near 30. A partly cloudy and dry day is in store for tomorrow, and temperatures could go above the freezing mark.
Wisconsin now has recorded 16 snowmobile deaths this winter – six more than a year ago, when there was a lot less snow. The latest victim is a 13-year-old Brussels area boy killed late yesterday afternoon in Door County. Authorities said the boy’s machine stopped on a snowmobile trail to cross a road. And when he crossed, he collided with a truck driven by a 47-year-old man. The truck driver was not driver was not hurt. The boy was the only one on his snowmobile. His name was not immediately released.