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Report: Problem in attracting new jobs in Wisconsin rooted internally


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin’s problem in attracting new jobs goes deeper than most of us think.

A new report from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance blames an aging population, and an apparent reluctance to take risks in starting new businesses.

It used to be that Wisconsin consistently attracted larger percentages of new jobs than the national average. But that was back in the 1980’s and early ‘90’s.

Since ‘96, Wisconsin’s annual percentage of job growth exceeded the national rate only 27 percent of the time. And from mid-2010 until last June, Wisconsin gained one-half percent fewer jobs than the national average.

Politicians point fingers when they hear numbers like these – and Tax Alliance president Todd Berry says both parties are “missing the forest for the trees.” He said the graying population and a lack of new businesses add up to a state which does not have enough working-age adults, and enough new companies to maintain the growth rates seen elsewhere.

Instead of luring out of state firms with tax breaks, Berry says the state should take bold steps to retain its younger workers and make sure they’re educated. He suggested more apprenticeships, more competitive college tuition, and more high-speed Internet service so professionals can work from anywhere in the state – even rural areas. 

The Tax Alliance says Wisconsin’s working age population grew by one-third less than the national average from 2002 to 2011 – which means that other states find it easier to fill job openings.

Also, Wisconsin had the nation’s second-lowest rate of new business start-ups since 2002, ahead of only neighboring Iowa.

Berry says the immigrants who settled here took fewer chances with their money – and throughout history, Wisconsinites have shown that they’re less likely to take the risks which are necessary to start new businesses.