Differences between Wisconsin, Minnesota economies discussed at UW-L

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker among the speakers

The regional economy between Wisconsin and Minnesota was the topic of conversation at breakfast Tuesday morning.

UW-La Crosse hosted businesses from the area to talk about the area’s economic health.

The plan was to have both Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton speak to the crowd, including ideas for collaboration and differences between the two states.

However, a scheduling conflict prevented Governor Dayton from attending.

An economics professor from UW-L gave a presentation in his place and led a discussion on the difference between the two since the recent recession.

“Minnesota has got a little bit higher education, Minnesota has a little bit younger workforce, and Minnesota relies less on manufacturing. Manufacturing is sort of the laggard in the recession, so that’s why I think Wisconsin is behind,” said UW-L Economics Professor Taggert Brooks.

Governor Walker did speak at Tuesday’s breakfast.

He touted the successes the state has seen while he’s been in office, including the lowest unemployment rate since 2010, and results from surveys by Manpower and the Chamber of Commerce reflecting employer confidence in the direction Wisconsin is heading.

The governor says a lot of that has to do with an emphasis the state is putting on worker training.

“One of the things they’re looking for, whether it’s here, in Holmen, West Salem, Prairie du Chien, or right here in La Crosse is employees, they need to have good hardworking employees that are well trained and well prepared.”

Minnesota’s unemployment rate is 4.8%, more than one percentage point lower than Wisconsin’s.