Finally.

After more than six years from the start of the Great Recession, the U.S. at long last has more jobs than it did before the recession. For Wisconsin though, that achievement is likely to be a few months in the future.

As of April 2014, there are still 27,700 fewer jobs in Wisconsin than there were in January 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the current rate of job growth, it means that Wisconsin won’t achieve pre-recession job levels until sometime this fall.

Once Wisconsin returns to pre-recession employment levels, additional jobs will need to be added to make up for the population growth that occurred during the recession. Wisconsin still needs to add more than 100,000 additional jobs just to keep up with growth in the working age population, according to the Center on Wisconsin Strategy.

Employment in Wisconsin may be nearing pre-recession levels, but the type of jobs has changed. As shown in the chart below, Wisconsin now has far fewer jobs in manufacturing and construction – jobs that pay relatively high wages – than it did before the recession. This trend reflects national patterns – employment in low-wage occupations grew twice as fast after the recession as did the number of jobs in mid-wage and higher-wage occupations, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Sometime this year, the Wisconsin economy will probably have as many jobs as it did before the recession. But further gains will be needed before Wisconsin workers are as well off as they were in 2008.

by Tamarine Cornelius