Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proclaimed on Thursday at a recent visit to the Minnesota Wire manufacturing plant that his state was on the right track for creating jobs, and that a surge in manufacturing played a key role.
“The heart and blood of this state is still manufacturing,” Walker said. “We do it better than any in the world. And the numbers we’ve seen for the first two months of this year show that we’re on the right path.” Gov. Walker was quick to add that in January and February alone, “the private sector was responsible for creating some 8,200 manufacturing jobs,” noting that the manufacturing is one of Wisconsin’s three core industries.
And he’s right. Wisconsin’s economy is largely dependent on manufacturing. According to First Research, the Manufacturing industry contributes $42.3 billion to Wisconsin’s $240 billion annual GDP and employs about 487,600 people. The industry has also seen about 3% in job growth since January 2010.
You may remember Gov. Scott Walker from recent news where he helmed what was known as the “anti-union” bill in which certain union rights were stripped from public workers (if not, think Wisconsin legislature fleeing to Illinois). Many protesters, still furious over Walker’s union reform, lined the streets in front of the Minnesota Wire facility.
Earlier this month, the Republican-controlled legislature approved that bill that would ultimately restrict public employees’ ability to bargain for benefits with their employers. Walker, the most prolific proponent for the bill, quickly signed the measure, but last week a judge ruled the state’s open meetings law was violated by the Senate and the bill has since been blocked from taking affect.
On the lighter side, the surge in manufacturing jobs can be most likely be partially attributed to a bill that Governor Walker signed back in February. The bill provides a tax deduction to small businesses for every job that is created and filled.
This tax deduction would undoubtedly provoke the manufacturing industry into a hiring spree given the industry’s current climate in Wisconsin. According to the Dairy State’s Department of Workforce Development, small firms dominate the manufacturing sector. In Wisconsin, small firms with less than 100 employees make up more than 90% of all manufacturing firms.