Is Minnesota’s economy leaving Wisconsin behind?

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I've been on a Minnesota-Wisconsin economy comparison kick since January. That's when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker resumed his "Wisconsin Open for Business" rhetoric.

As we've noted in several posts (find them here and here) Wisconsin talks a better game than it plays when it comes to economic success. The facts show Minnesota performed better than the Badger State in keeping people employed during the Great Recession and adding jobs in the recovery.

Now, though, new data show Minnesota may be starting to pull away.

Here's a look at the state monthly coincident index produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

The index is a good apples-to-apples comparison, combing four indicators (nonfarm payroll employment, average hours worked in manufacturing, the unemployment rate, and inflated-adjusted wages) into a single statistic.

Wisconsin's underperformed the U.S. and Minnesota throughout the recession and recovery. The February data show a marked uptick for Minnesota over Wisconsin.

Here are the same data indexed to a common starting point in November 2007, just before the recession began.

And finally a map of Minnesota's growth compared to other states from December through February.

Dark green is best. So there's a lot to like there if you're in Minnesota and, well, less to like in Wisconsin.

Need more proof?

Here's a chart published on Forbes.com Tuesday by the economic modeling group EMSI.

Again, I've noted in other posts that the data don't end the discussion about taxes and spending or the effects of fiscal policy on business decisions.

From 1980 through the early 2000s, Minnesota and Wisconsin ran neck-and-neck in these key economic measures.

Minnesota started to outpace Wisconsin roughly a decade ago and survived the recession in better shape. Now Minnesota's economy may be starting to leave Wisconsin behind.

BONUS: MPR News colleague Will Lager shared this recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story showing Wisconsin near the bottom of states in private job creation. Minnesota's not great in this regard, but still better than the Badger State. Goodbye, Wisconsin.

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