Tuesday Trends sample: Kenosha rising, jobs mixed and energy efficiency falling

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Kenosha: City, state and federal officials announce an agreement to transfer ownership and ensure cleanup of the city’s shuttered Chrysler engine plant site. Under the settlement, the trust that owns the plant, which closed about a year ago under the auto company’s restructuring agreement, will sell off everything on the 106-acre premises. The property would then pass to the city of Kenosha or the state of Wisconsin, depending on what the city decides. Through the Chrysler bankruptcy plan, $10 million in federal Troubled Asset Relief Program funds will be made available to resolve environmental problems. The state says the agreement will enable the land’s transformation to usable real estate without relying on city tax dollars to clean up the site. But Mayor Keith Bosman warns that the environmental costs could greatly exceed the available TARP funds, and acknowledges that new development on the site could be as much as a decade away.


Jobs: Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dipped slightly in September to 7.8 percent from August’s 7.9 percent. That’s ahead of the national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent. But the latest monthly statistics from the state Department of Workforce Development show the state also lost 900 private sector jobs last month — the third consecutive month of losses. That includes a loss of 3,000 jobs in the state’s manufacturing sector alone. Meanwhile, the state Revenue Department releases its latest economic forecast, predicting that the state will add 136,000 private sector jobs by 2014 over last year’s totals. That’s down 43,000 jobs from the agency’s previous forecast and spells trouble for the governor’s pledge to create 250,000 jobs in his first term.


Energy efficiency: A new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranks Wisconsin 16th in its annual energy efficiency scorecard. While that’s in the top half nationally, the council had the Badger State ranked in the top 10 just a few years ago, and lumps the state with New Jersey as states that had “slowed or stepped backward in the race to save energy.” That’s after lawmakers sliced the state’s energy efficiency spending during a difficult state budget earlier this year. Neighboring states Michigan and Illinois, meanwhile, now rank just behind Wisconsin and were cited as two of the six most improved states by the ACEEE report. Massachusetts ranked highest nationally in the report; North Dakota ranked last.