Report gives Wisconsin B+ for manufacturing, B for logistics

A new report from Ball State University gave Wisconsin a B+ for manufacturing and a B for logistics.

The 2015 Manufacturing and Logistics Report, prepared by Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) for Conexus Indiana, the state’s advanced manufacturing initiative, shows how each state ranks among its peers in several areas of the economy that underlie the success of manufacturing and logistics.

These specific measures include the health of the manufacturing and logistics industries, the state of human capital, the cost of worker benefits, diversification of the industries, state-level productivity and innovation, expected fiscal liability, the state tax climate, and global reach.

In the other categories, Wisconsin earned a B+ for human capital and a B for sector diversification. Expected liability gap and productivity and innovation each received a C+, and global reach got a C. Worker benefit costs and tax climate received the worst grades of a D and D+, respectively.

According to the report, several of Wisconsin’s scores declined from last year.

“Wisconsin dropped its grades in benefits costs category from C to D, in expected fiscal liability gap category from A to C+, and in human capital category from A to B+,” said CBER director Michael Hicks. “Wisconsin remains a very strong manufacturing state that is wrestling with critical fiscal and human capital issues to remain competitive in the 21st century.”

Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan and South Carolina received A’s for manufacturing. Indiana, Pennsylvania and Texas earned A’s for logistics. Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Washington got A’s for human capital. Arkansas, Georgia, Nevada, Texas and Utah received A’s for worker benefit costs.

For tax climate, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana and Utah earned A’s. The states who received A’s for expected fiscal liability gap were Delaware, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas. Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and South Carolina got A’s for global reach. Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Virginia and Washington earned A’s for sector diversification. Finally, California, Connecticut, Michigan, Texas and Washington got A’s for productivity and innovation.  

In the report’s companion study, The Myth and the Reality of Manufacturing in America, Hicks also provided an analysis of why American manufacturing and logistics are in better shape than many believe.

“There are major misunderstandings among the public and the media about the manufacturing sector,” he said. “The U.S. manufacturing base is not in decline, and we have recovered from the recession. Nor are jobs being outsourced because American manufacturing can’t compete internationally. Moreover new jobs in manufacturing pay well above the average wage.”

The study notes that the Great Recession had lost its stranglehold by 2014, when U.S. manufacturers attained record levels of production.

“Overall, only 13 percent of lost jobs over the past decade, which are less than 4 percent of all manufacturing jobs, can be linked to international trade and most of trade-related job losses are in low productivity sectors,” Hicks said. “Changes in productivity, domestic demand and foreign trade all impact manufacturing employment in the U.S., and it’s important to clarify those impacts in order to understand what is happening in the manufacturing and logistics industries.”

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