Wisconsin lawmaker: We (heart) Minnesota business?

In the past couple weeks, I've written two posts detailing how Minnesota's economy has outperformed Wisconsin -- from the Great Recession through today.

The last post, I titled: "Hey Wisconsin, what happened?"

Today, though, Wisconsin Rep. Erik Severon, R-Osceola, sent out an "open letter" to Minnesota businesses encouraging them to relocate to Wisconsin in response to Gov. Dayton's tax and budget proposals.

Severson writes:

Create a More Connected Minnesota

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In the last two years Wisconsin has turned around, becoming a haven for private sector job growth. It was done by controlling government spending and holding the line on taxes. I urge you to consider moving your business to a state that values job creators and won't impose arbitrary taxes that hinder economic expansion.

I'll leave the budget and tax debate to others. The data, however, show that through the recession and even in the past two years, Wisconsin falls short of Minnesota and the country when it comes to job growth and other key economic indicators.

Here's a chart showing nonfarm employment in the U.S., Minnesota and Wisconsin, plotted on a common index. It shows Wisconsin's job growth lagging the U.S. and Minnesota, including during the past two years.

My point: No matter what you think of the budget and tax policies of the two states, the bedrock economic data show Minnesota has outperformed Wisconsin since 2000 and has accelerated its recovery the past two years while Wisconsin's recovery has stumbled.

It'd be great to get into a larger discussion about the two economies. If anyone has data showing Wisconsin's economic superiority, send it to me and we'll put it out for the larger discussion.

Until then, let's put aside the notion that Wisconsin is eating Minnesota's economic lunch.

Yes, it's possible Gov. Dayton's tax and budget policies will send businesses running away. But the past two years of Wisconsin tax and budget policies haven't produced any economic Renaissance.


The data above include government and non-government jobs. So do the trends hold if we're only talking private sector? Yes.

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages breaks out private sector employment. Here are data for Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The numbers show Wisconsin down 55,421 private sector jobs from Dec '07 to June '12 (preliminary data), while Minnesota is down 7,056. From December 2010 (Just before political administrations changed) to June 2012, Wisconsin grew by 86,492 jobs while Minnesota rose by 117,802 jobs.

Again, the 2012 data is preliminary. But if you break out just private sector job growth, Minnesota is still stronger than Wisconsin. You find all the data here.