WisBusiness: Green Bay tops in state for job growth

By Brian E. Clark

Green Bay was Wisconsin’s hottest metropolitan area for job growth over
the past year, according to statistics released Wednesday by the federal

The study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed Green Bay
added 6,800 jobs from July 2003 through July 2004 for a 4.6 percent
increase – one of the fastest growth rates in the country.

Elsewhere in the state, La Crosse added 2,100 jobs for a 2.9 percent
increase; Sheboygan added 1,700 jobs for a 2.7 percent jump;
Milwaukee-Waukesha grew by 12,400 jobs for a 1.5 percent increase; and
Madison added 2,300 jobs for a .8 percent hike.

On the downside, the Janesville-Beloit area, Kenosha and Racine all
showed job losses for the same period, according to the report.

Overall in Wisconsin, a resurgent economy added 48,800 jobs, an
increase of 1.7 percent to 2.85 million – well above the national rate
of 1.3 percent. Wisconsin also outpaced other states in the Midwest.
Michigan lost 54,000 jobs and Ohio lost more than 20,000 jobs.
Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota added more than 17,000 jobs, while
Iowa added more than 8,000 jobs.

Tom Hefty, co-chair of the governor’s Economic Growth Council, said
that while the gain in jobs was heartening, it is even more important
that much of the gain came in high-wage industries.

Wisconsin added more than 16,000 jobs in the professional and business
sector, more than 2,500 jobs in the financial activities sector and
12,000 new manufacturing positions during the 12-month period.

Hefty credited Green Bay and Brown County’s entrepreneurial culture,
its diversified economy, locally owned businesses and injections of
venture capital for its strong growth.

“There is good news in this report for Green Bay, Milwaukee and good
news for most of the rest of the state,” he said.

Recent state figures also show that plant closings and mass layoffs in
Wisconsin have declined by more than 35 percent from last year and have
dropped to their lowest level in four years.

Through Aug. 24, 75 plant shutdowns and layoff notices had been filed
with the state Department of Workforce Development for the year. During
the same period in 2003, there were 117 notices filed.

For August itself, just five notices have been filed with the state
(three plant closures and two mass layoffs).

Those figures indicate that a recovery in the manufacturing sector is
beginning to take hold, said Terry Ludeman, chief labor economist with
the Department of Workforce Development.

The good news for Wisconsin came as another report, also released
today, showed U.S. factory activity slowed slightly in August as new
orders shrank and manufacturers were forced to pay higher prices for
supplies. The Institute for Supply Management said its index of
national manufacturing activity fell to 59.0 in August from 62.0 in
July. But the August figure was still not far below January’s
two-decade high of 63.6, as growth continued for a 15th consecutive

Overall, Gov. Jim Doyle said his efforts to juice Wisconsin’s economy
are paying off.

“Through my Grow Wisconsin plan, we have worked hard to strengthen all
sectors of our economy, and position Wisconsin to compete at the high
end,” he said.

 “Wisconsin will continue to do well if we focus on what we do
best – make the best products found anywhere in the world with the best
trained, best educated workers in the world,” he said.

“But we are not out of the woods yet,” Doyle said. “We still have a lot
of work to do, and we will continue to focus on job creation and moving
our economy forward.”