A new report by North Star Policy Institute finds that Minnesota’s construction industry has pulled ahead of Wisconsin’s since the Great Recession, fueled by a strong recovery that has boosted both employment and average worker pay. Minnesota surpassed Wisconsin in total construction employment, while construction industry wage growth in Minnesota has far outpaced that of Wisconsin since 2010. The findings are based on analysis of industry and workforce data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Minnesota and Wisconsin began 2007 with nearly identical construction employment and average pay, and both endured substantial job losses following the onset of the Great Recession. Each state lost approximately 32,000 jobs, between 2007 and 2010, a roughly 25% drop from pre-recession employment levels. But since 2010, the recovery of Minnesota’s construction industry has been much more robust:
- Minnesota added 31,486 construction jobs between 2010 and 2017, a 33.1%increase, while Wisconsin added just 22,827, which represents a 24.6%increase.
- Wisconsin boasted 1,026 more construction jobs than Minnesota in 2007, but by 2017, Minnesota led by 7,178 jobs.
The report also analyzes wage trends in the two states since the Great Recession. Minnesota construction workers endured a larger loss in average annual wages than Wisconsin workers between 2007 and 2010 ($1,313 vs. $919). Worker pay came roaring back in Minnesota between 2010 and 2017, however, increasing by $6,788 compared to just $4,732 in Wisconsin — 43%-greater wage growth. In 2007, the average Minnesota construction worker earned just slightly more than Wisconsin peers (5.6%), but by 2017, the pay gap had nearly tripled to 15.4%.
The report further examines how the policies adopted by each state in the wake of the Great Recession have contributed to the strength of Minnesota’s recovery compared to Wisconsin. Minnesota injected public dollars into public works projects throughout the state, enacted progressive fiscal policies, and increased investments in education. Wisconsin, in contrast, pursued a path of austerity and deregulation, rejected federal funding for high-speed rail, enacted anti-union legislation, and repealed prevailing wage laws.