Wisconsin’s Economy: A Comparative Study

September 6, 2022 — As we move through 2022, the national economy is in what might best be described as a strange state. With two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth, many would say we have entered a mild recession. Inflation continues to erode earnings at a rate not seen in 40 years. However, the labor market remains strong, with payroll and unemployment at pre-pandemic or better levels.

Nationally, Wisconsin ranks as the 29th most productive state (including the District of Columbia) as measured by GDP per capita and the second lowest among seven Midwestern states. This is a marked change from 2011, when Wisconsin was the fourth most productive Midwestern state per capita.

Wisconsin experienced large inflows of taxpayers and income throughout the decade from other Midwestern states, especially from Illinois and more recently from Minnesota. For the 2011-2020 period, residents moving into Wisconsin from other Midwestern states brought $2.7 billion in income.

This report by Andrew Hanson examines how the Wisconsin economy has fared over the past decade on several key measures: GDP, population and migration, employment and business activity. Each of these measures offers a unique way to view the state’s economy. Taken together, these measures paint a complex, nuanced picture of Wisconsin’s economy and the prospects for future growth.

Of course, any local economy does not exist in a vacuum — Wisconsin’s economy is integrated with other states and other nations. To examine both how the state’s economy compares and how it competes, this report puts Wisconsin in a national context and compares the fortunes of Wisconsinites with people in other Midwestern states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio.

Read the full report here