Forbes Names Walker’s Wisconsin One of the Worst States for Business

walker open for business

Remember Governor Walker’s proud “Wisconsin is Open for Business” slogan?

Turns out, Wisconsin in 2012 is bad for business, according to Forbes magazine. They are ranked at 42 out of 50 for best states to do business. In other words, in the top ten worst states to do business. Forbes notes that Wisconsin job growth is projected to be second worst in the country through 2016, and the cost of doing business is 0.7% above national average.

They based their ranking on the following criteria and ranked Wisconsin as follows:

• #35 in Business Costs
• #39 in Labor Supply
• #30 in Regulatory Environment
• #29 in Economic Climate
• #43 in Growth Prospects
• #10 in Quality of Life

So, according to Forbes, Wisconsin is at #43 for “growth” prospects. Club for Growth must be so proud. Business costs are pretty high as well, ranking at #35.

Forbes profiles the state, “Wisconsin’s economy is driven by manufacturing, agriculture and health care. The state is also the nation’s leading producer of cheese. The Badger State adopted the slogan ‘Open for Business’ in 2011, erecting signs along the state border. The results have been middling at best as job growth is projected to be second worst in the U.S. through 2016.”

This shouldn’t surprise anyone who pays attention, with Wisconsin’s job losses the highest in the nation in May, causing the governor to play move the goal post with the numbers while fooling no one. In September of 2011, the state lost 2,300 jobs in one month, 800 of them from the private sector, signalling that something was rotten in the cheese state.

Governor Walker gave $2.3 billion in new tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy, while cutting the pay of teachers and union members because it would “create jobs.” It’s almost been two years and we’re not seeing the jobs. Prior to Walker taking office, Wisconsin Politics noted, “(T)he state’s unemployment rate had been holding steady or falling for much of the two years preceding his taking office.”

Wisconsin is not as bad for business as Michigan at 47, and Maine takes the bad-for-business crown at 50. Forbes was trying to make the point that right-to-work states fare better for business and therefor jobs, a theory economic studies have failed to prove. During the past year, Governor Walker’s law to kill collective bargaining was in place and union members’ were unable to negotiate collectively yet business did not flock to Wisconsin. The law has since been found unconstitutional, but the court battle will continue.

We could pretend that conservatives didn’t argue that Obama is a failure because the economy wasn’t “fixed” in his first year (though data later proved Wisconsin was not in the dire straits Walker claimed it was when he took office), and thus suggest that Walker’s policies have not had time to resonate yet. So let’s look at the one state that adopted right-to-work laws long enough ago to make the data relevant. American Progress notes a study on Oklahoma, the only state to adopt right to work in the past 25 years (besides Indiana in 2011), fails to prove Forbes’ theory:

… In fact, economists Sylvia Allegretto and Gordon Lafer of the University of California, Berkeley and University of Oregon, respectively, show that since Oklahoma’s law passed in 2001, manufacturing employment and business relocations to the state actually reversed their “pre-right-to-work” increases and began to fall—and this at a time when Oklahoma’s extractive industry economies were booming. To the contrary, these researchers show that right-to-work laws have failed to increase employment growth in the 22 states that have adopted them.

Wisconsin is Open for Business! They got everything they wanted and then some, yet it’s not working. Why is that? Could it be that trickle down is the same failure on a state level as it is nationally?

It’s great that Republicans keep testing out these failed theories, just to see if one day, by fluke, they might happen to work. It’s been 40 years and the data has yet to back them up. Tick tock. Wisconsin is open for business.

The Forbes study incorporates 35 data points with business costs weighted the most heavily. Moody’s Analytics provided much of the economic data.

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