In-Migration of Skilled Workers Needed to Spur State Economy
Slowing Number of Births Poses Challenge
MADISON—With baby boomers retiring and state workforce growth stagnating, attracting people to Wisconsin to meet future labor needs will become increasingly important if the Wisconsin economy is to grow. That is the bottom line of a new report from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX), “To spur the economy, Wisconsin will have to import . . . people!”
“The unfortunate reality for Wisconsin is that for the next several decades, our population will not grow much due to natural causes,” WISTAX President Todd A. Berry said. “Birth numbers will increase little, while the number of baby boomers passing away will rise.”
During the 1980s, there were 76% more births than deaths (727,817 vs. 414,694) in Wisconsin. State demographers expect that difference to shrink to less than 16% (749,258 vs. 647,515) during 2030-40. According to Berry, that makes encouraging people to move to Wisconsin increasingly important.
Wisconsin’s net migration grew worse in almost every year during 2000-11. In 2000, 7,269 more people moved to Wisconsin than moved out. By 2005, more people left the state than moved in; and by 2010, that figure approached 10,000.
Long-term migration statistics do have a silver lining, WISTAX noted. As the early 1990s showed, migration to Wisconsin can occur in times of low unemployment and worker shortages. In 1994 and 1995 combined, 17,000 more people moved into the state than left.
Figures for 2011 show about half of those moving to Wisconsin came from one of five states: Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, California, or Florida. While the average income of Wisconsin residents not leaving was over $58,000, averages for those five “sending” states were all less, ranging from $41,300 (California) to $46,800 (Illinois). Of people leaving Wisconsin, more than half moved to Illinois, Minnesota, Florida, Texas, California, or Michigan. Average incomes of those movers varied widely, from $64,100 for new Floridians to $38,200 for those moving to Minnesota.
This report follows up on the March issue of The Wisconsin Taxpayer that documents demographic changes over the next 30 years. Copies of the new study are available at www.wistax.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; calling 608.241.9789; or writing WISTAX at 401 North Lawn Ave., Madison, WI 53704-5033.