Wisconsin’s regional economies, 1999-2003
The United States’ employment peaked in March 2001 and went into what is termed a mild recession. The recession was a surprise to many states. Income was lower than expected. Some 42 states experienced budget deficits as late as 2003-04. Wisconsin was among them. Wisconsin was particularly hard hit by manufacturing job losses, job losses that have continued well into 2004 in some parts of the state.
The U.S. economy was officially in recession for a very short time period (March 2001 through November 2001). But what was unusual is that once the recession formally ended and gross domestic product began to grow, it grew with no employment growth. It was termed a “jobless recovery.” And it was. Unemployment grew and the employment numbers did not. It was not until March 2004 that the U.S. announced significant employment gains.
The question that this report addresses is what has been happening over the 1999-2003 period to the various metropolitan economies of the state. We know through many press releases that it was not until late spring 2004 that the state’s economy actually began to show signs of an employment recovery. And even then, areas such as Milwaukee still were showing declines relative to comparable months in 2003. A few areas of the state did not suffer the same fate. In fact, some actually grew over this period. That is not a surprise. What may be a surprise is what is behind the job losses and employment growth. Areas that experienced net job losses were home to industries that gained employment. It is details such as these that this report brings to the fore.