On a media call today that included State Senator Chris Larson and State Representative Sandy Pasch, Citizen Action of Wisconsin released a new report finds troubling trends in Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s self-reported jobs impacts which raise questions about whether the agency is playing favorites. Click here to hear the audio of the media call.
In the data reported by WEDC, there are very large disparities in the claimed jobs impact between different areas of the state, with impact concentrated in a handful of legislative districts.
There is also a troubling correlation between claimed jobs impact and the partisan representation of Legislative districts. Districts where higher job impact numbers are reported by WEDC also are represented by Republicans. Additionally members of the Republican Assembly who are in leadership positions have a disproportionately high number of jobs claimed to be impacted by WEDC in their district compared to Democratic-led district and other Republican districts.
- There are wide variations in the number of “jobs impacted” in each legislative district. While one Assembly district has over 6,000 jobs supposedly projected, 14 Assembly districts have none whatsoever. In 22 Assembly districts WEDC claims to have impacted over 1,000 jobs, while 25 districts have less than 100 supposedly impacted.
- Republican Assembly districts have close to twice as many jobs projected as Democratic Assembly districts (86% more, or 389 more jobs projected on average).
- Republican Leaders in the Assembly have a disproportionate number of jobs impacted in their districts. Republican Majority Leader Bill Kramer’s district features jobs impacted at a rate over 8 times higher than the average Republican district. Republican Speaker Robin Vos and Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair John Nygren have a disproportionate number of jobs impacted compared both with average Republican and average Democratic districts.
- After adjusting for underlying districts, the average number of jobs projected in Republican Senate districts is more than twice that of Democratic districts (102% more, or 1,187 more on average).
- In the suburban and politically conservative counties of Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee, WEDC claims to have impacted 13,656 jobs. Conversely, Milwaukee County only has 5,771 jobs projected by WEDC, or under 30% of the total projected for the 4 county region.
- The per capita disparity in jobs projected by WEDC between Waukesha and Milwaukee counties is even more striking. There is 1 job allegedly impacted for every 166 Milwaukee County residents, while in Waukesha county 1 job is allegedly impacted for every 36 residents.
- WEDC’s method of counting jobs seems not to be related to the size of the public investment, raising questions about their standards both for selecting projects and for claiming outcomes. In one instance an award of $85,000 is claimed to have impacted 109 jobs, in the case of ATACO Steel Products Corporation in Ozaukee County, while an award of $2,000,000 to Plexus Corp in Outagamie County is claimed to have produced zero jobs.