Governor Scott Walker was in Superior today to talk about economic growth, but odds are he didn’t mention the fact that jobs, wages and opportunity are growing at a much faster rate just across the border in Minnesota.
The New York Times yesterday highlighted the increasingly divergent paths down which Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota are traveling – two cities bound both by geography in their shared role as a major cargo port on the Mississippi River and by their cultural similarities.
Lawrence R. Jacobs, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota, called the difference “staggering,” commenting to the Times that, “You’ve got two states with the same history, the same culture, the same people – it’s kind of like they’re cousins. And now they’re looking across the border and seeing one world, then seeing something else entirely on the other side.”
Yesterday’s Times feature is hardly the first to draw the contrast between the states’ polar opposite approaches to investments in education, healthcare, infrastructure and job creation.
In October, the Pioneer Press highlighted the differences between the two states on job growth, reporting that, Wisconsin lagged the nation in job growth and was growing jobs at just about half the rate as Minnesota.
The most current and accurate jobs numbers available show that Wisconsin has dropped to 37th in the nation in job growth over the past year, creating just 23,963 new jobs — a figure that puts our rate of growth at about half the national average and is less than half as many jobs as our neighbors in Minnesota created during the same period.
And in November, Citizen Action of Wisconsin released a study showing that, because of Scott Walker’s partisan refusal to accept federal funds to expand Wisconsin’s successful BadgerCare program, Wisconsin health insurance exchange premiums for single coverage will be on average 79% to 99% higher than premiums in Minnesota, before tax credits are applied — a difference of over $1,800 a year.
“While Wisconsinites in Superior are crippled with diminished job growth opportunities, higher healthcare costs and the prospect of Scott Walker’s nearly 200% tax increase hanging over their heads, five miles away in Duluth, Minnesotans are enjoying the lowest healthcare costs in the nation, have higher wages, have recovered all the jobs lost in the national recession and then some, and were even able to pass marriage equality legislation,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Monday. “Rarely can people so clearly see ‘what might have been’ than in the case of Superior and Duluth.”