With rising costs to students and soaring debt levels, many people are questioning the value of pursuing higher education. Nationally, a person with a bachelor’s degree will earn about $560,980 or 37.8% more than a person with a high school degree, even while accounting for lost years of work while obtaining the degree.
As a growing number of Wisconsin farms struggle to survive, many farm households (families) are dependent on off farm income to offset weak and unstable farm sourced income. Over the five-year average (2016-2020) average household income for Wisconsin farm operators is $98,353of which $20,210 comes from farming activities, and the remaining $78,143 comes from off farm sources. One strategy to ensure the continued operation of most Wisconsin farms is to focus on enhancing off farm employment opportunities.
Entrepreneurial activity increased sharply in Wisconsin in 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Entrepreneurship is a key part of any healthy economy but ensuring that new business activity leads to significant economic impact by creating high quality jobs can be difficult. Communities can take a lead role in a range of strategies that help entrepreneurs grow and be successful to make the most of this opportunity to improve their economies.
The development of seasonal and recreational housing units in Wisconsin reflects the economic transitions of many counties that were formerly dependent on natural resource extraction to a current reliance on services, hospitality, and recreation. With these transformations also come regional opportunities and challenges related to the growth of seasonal and recreational housing.
Nonemployer establishments, sole proprietorships and partnerships without any paid employees, are an important part of the country’s economy. As of 2018, they made up a large and quickly growing share of businesses in the United States at 77% of the total while the other 23% of establishments were employer businesses . Given that nonemployer establishments are businesses without employees, they are predominantly independent contractors who work for themselves or small businesses operated only by the owner(s) or unpaid members of their family.
When one thinks about the term “business climate”, factors such as taxes, regulations, and unionization come to mind. These items tend to be viewed as potential costs that businesses face when making investment decisions. Anything that is viewed as increasing the costs of business operations is considered bad for the business climate of a community or region. To foster economic growth and development the business climate of the community or region must be enhanced. The logic follows that strategies or policies that reduce tax burdens, limit or reduce regulations, or weaken the strength of labor unions (e.g. Right-to-Work laws) will enhance business climate and foster economic growth and development.
Childcare was a challenge for parents before the pandemic and has only become more difficult in recent months. During the pandemic, as much as 60% of childcare providers closed and stopped providing childcare (Bipartisan Policy Center, 2020). While many of those closures were temporary, a recent state-level study estimates that, in absence of additional aid, 30% of the childcare supply in Wisconsin could be permanently lost if providers are closed for more than two weeks without revenue due to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted Wisconsin’s economy. When the country reported the first case on January 20th, 2020, there was uncertainty as to how fast and far the virus would spread. On March 11th, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic and on March 16th all Wisconsin public schools were ordered to close while Governor Tony Evers instituted a Safer-at-Home order and closure of all non-essential businesses.
Recent analysis demonstrates that communities of color are disproportionately suffering the health impacts of COVID-19. In Milwaukee County, 29 percent of the population is Black or African American yet Black or African Americans represent 43 percent of COVID-19-related deaths1. Much like the poor health outcomes from COVID-19 are disproportionately suffered by people of color, the economic costs are likely also inequitably distributed across racial and ethnic groups.
The Safer-At-Home order by Governor Evers put into effect starting March 25, 2020 in response to COVID-19 has drawn attention to the lack of adequate broadband in many parts of Wisconsin. As many employees work from home, students take their courses online, patients seek care through telehealth, and families entertain themselves at home with streaming services, access to broadband has become all the more apparent and the impacts more significant. Without access to adequate broadband service, employees find it difficult to work.
The growth in student debt in the United States has become a cause for concern. At the beginning of 2006, student debt, or loans taken out to pursue higher educational opportunities, was approximately $481 billion. By the beginning of 2019, that amount has grown to nearly $1.6 trillion (Figure 1a). While student loan debt remains smaller than consumer credit debt ($4.1 trillion) or mortgage debt ($15.5 trillion), the rate of growth of student debt is alarming.
Numerous communities across Wisconsin encourage and support resident participation in local initiatives. These are places with high volunteerism rates where members can undertake constructive conversations about issues facing the community. Newcomers, along with their ideas and input, are welcomed. Sometimes, it is said that these communities have high levels of “social capital”.