Latest data show Minnesota economy crushing it vs. Wisconsin

Not trying to rub it in or anything, but for years now we’ve been documenting Minnesota’s rising economic dominance over Wisconsin in job creation, gross domestic product and other important economic indicators.

Since the end of the Great Recession, Minnesota has outpaced the Badger State.

The only category where Wisconsin held an edge was in total jobs. It made sense since Wisconsin has a significantly larger population than Minnesota. But in 2015 the trend was clear that when it came to total employees and total private sector employees, Minnesota was coming for Wisconsin — so much so that I wrote, “It will not be surprising to see Minnesota eclipse Wisconsin in a few years,” I wrote.

Last month, it happened.

I’m a little embarrassed that I missed it, but Wisconsin Public Radio a few weeks ago wrote:

Minnesota had more jobs than Wisconsin in 2017, marking the first time in recent history that it has passed its Midwest neighbor.

Data released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed Minnesota nudged ahead of Wisconsin by 3,096 total jobs.

That’s hardly a huge edge given the size of their overall workforces, which total almost 2.9 million workers in each state.

But the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show Wisconsin still has almost 219,000 more residents than Minnesota, and just a decade ago, it had nearly 98,000 more jobs.

Yes, I predicted it. But I’m still stunned by it and by the strength of Minnesota’s overall economy the past decade.

The graphs below are from different data sets than the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages cited by Wisconsin Public Radio’s job comparison report, but they more than illustrate Minnesota’s ascendancy over Wisconsin.


Here’s a look at total nonfarm employees …

… And private sector job gains:

Coincident Economic Activity

This index is a good apples-to-apples economic comparison created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. It combines four indicators (nonfarm payroll employment, average hours worked in manufacturing, the unemployment rate, and inflation-adjusted wages) into a single statistic.

Minnesota and Wisconsin ran neck-and-neck for years. Minnesota’s pulled away since the end of the Great Recession.

Gross Domestic Product

Minnesota produced about $20.7 billion more in goods and services than Wisconsin in 2008. By 2017, Minnesota had widened that gap to $27.1 billion.

Wages and salaries

When the economy is succeeding and jobs are being created, it’s only natural that payrolls will grow, too. But the widening gap between Minnesota and Wisconsin is stunning.

Minnesota reported wages and salaries totaling $11.9 billion more than Wisconsin in the first quarter of 2008. By first quarter 2018, that total wage gap had nearly doubled to $22.4 billion.

As I’ve noted before, Minnesota’s been able to dominate the comparisons largely because health care and education jobs saved our bacon in the recession and the years that followed, and Minnesota’s economy is less dependent than Wisconsin on manufacturing.

Perhaps our trend lines will cross again, Wisconsin.

For now, though, goodbye.

  • AmiSchwab

    walker’s pact with the devil (foxconn) will change all that i bet. wink wink

  • Sam M
  • Walker’s Tax cuts, cuts in government and infrastructure spending, giveaways to business – no matter, I-94 here in Woodbury is still jammed every day with escapees from Wisconsin on their way to work in the Twin Cities.

    • Rob

      Gods help our economy if Tim Less-is-plenty obtains the governorship and Repubs control the state legislature.

      • JamieHX

        He COULD win if MPR and other news outlets keep giving him more time and attention than the other candidates. MPR seems to LOVE Pawlenty. I noticed this during the time he was governor, too.

        • // MPR seems to LOVE Pawlenty.

          And the beat goes on.

          • JamieHX

            If the tempo fits…

          • JamieHX

            I’m not saying MPR shouldn’t cover Pawlenty because I disagree with him. I’m saying you should cover the other candidates equally, and that includes at this point the other main Republican in the race. What I hear is not equal coverage.

          • Jim in RF

            Absolutely. Pawlenty sneezes and its on the air.

          • By its very definition, hyperbole is not fact.

          • Postal Customer

            That tweet completely ignores the fact that the media (including newspapers) lavished free air time on Donald Trump because it drove ratings and clicks.

        • Rob

          I gotta get me some of whatever you’re smokin’. Did you see the MPR story about how Tim Less-is-plenty was, in addition to his 1%er business roundtable salary, raking in tons of dough from sitting on nine corporate boards, and is still sitting on two boards as he runs for governor?

          • theoacme

            It doesn’t matter that Pawlenty gets more coverage than everybody except Donald Trump…I ain’t voting for him, because of his record…

            …what does matter is that NPR-networked public radio and the corporate owned mass media ignore everybody EXCEPT DFL/GOP, unless it’s to blame the non-DFL/GOP for allowing the “greater evil” of the GOP/DFL to get elected, and I don’t care…

            …because I believe that every DFL/GOP candidate in Minnesota and the United States that is officially endorsed by their state and national party committees and the concomitant mass media endorsements are corporate fascists, are unfit to be trusted with dirty laundry.

            I would be better off being lynched than voting for any of them, and I believe that all of them would either actively participate in my execution for refusing to submit to the establishment’s corporate fascism, or say that I deserved to suffer a worse death for refusing to submit to the establishment’s corporate fascism.

    • Kassie

      I have a number of co-workers who had to flee Walker’s Wisconsin to come here to find jobs. They couldn’t afford to be public sector workers there.

    • Barton

      don’t forget their “right to work” legislation (which in practice is much more than the union killer everyone thinks it is).

      • JamieHX

        What do you mean by “much more than the union killer everyone thinks it is”?
        (Thanks for putting quotation marks around “right to work.” That label is more clever, misleading right-wing marketing that doesn’t mean what it appears to mean.)

      • JoeInMidwest

        Right to work really translates to right to be enslaved.

  • Al

    “I’m so surprised.” –No Minnesotan ever.

    • Jerry

      Whoah, deja vu!

      • Al

        It works for so many situations. 😀

  • Sonny T

    Sorry to rain on everyone’s parade, but Minnesota has fewer good jobs for working folk. Not everyone can be an associate tech support lead.

    • jon

      Are you saying associate tech support leads aren’t working people?

      Or more generally are people who work at their jobs not “working people”? (Are they not “working” or are they not “people”?)

      The data says MN has more jobs, that pay better, and produce more economic benefit… So if your “working people” are ok with lower wages and less opportunity and equate that to mean “good jobs” then yes the data agrees with you… And If WI would rather redefine success than be successful that’s ok by me, I really don’t care one way or another… But the people of WI might.

      • Sonny T

        Working people work with their hands. They don’t have degrees. Or 401k’s. Or five weeks vacation per year. If you have these things, these are the people you don’t see, don’t know, and don’t associate with.
        For these people WI is better. Unemployment is much lower for lower income groups, for instance.

        I was making a bit of a joke with the tech support stuff. Honest, when I ask some people what they do, they talk away, but no way can I tell.

        • Do you write pickup truck ad copy for a living.

          • Sonny T

            Used pickups

        • Not all “working people” are degree-free. I heard of an attorney working at the local window factory in Bayport, and I myself have done what you would call honest work in the trenches, though I am degreed. (Installing drain tiles in farm fields.) Further, in my working life I have encountered many undegreed people who had desk jobs and did just fine. In general, “working people” do better in economies where there are people to hire them – like here in Minnesota.

          • The doctor and nurses at the hospital are working. The teacher is working. The journalist is working . The roofer is working. The trash collector is working. The cop is working.

            Maybe it’s time we get off this kick about devaluing the worth of anybody.

            Except the racists, of course. They’re worthless. And the NY Yankees.

        • jon

          “Unemployment is much lower for lower income groups, for instance.”

          Think about that statement really hard.

          What you are saying is the same thing the data is saying, you’ll get paid less in WI, you’ll still be “lower income” while working in WI… Yippee!

          And as for who I associate with and what benefits their job offers there are a number of people I know who will be disappointed to learn that electricians, plumbers, and mechanics aren’t “working people” … Though maybe they’ll decide to move to WI to get paid less and recieve fewer benefits just so they can earn your respect as “working people”.

  • ricelaker

    I would not say that Wisconsin’s population is significantly larger than Minnesota’s ie 5.8 million vs 5.5 million. Minnesota has a slightly lower average age.