Madison vs. the US Economy

We recently published a few posts on this blog discussing the current state of the economy and the growing fears regarding a double-dip recession. Rather than to continue to discuss the volatile markets and the global economic fears, we thought we would take the opportunity on this very autumn-like Wisconsin Friday to briefly discuss a more positive topic: how well Madison’s economy is doing relative to the rest of the state and the country.

Wisconsin unemployment numbers released yesterday showed a rate of 7.9 percent in August, up from 7.8 percent in July. While that number certainly is not ideal, it is still significantly better than the 9.1 percent national rate. In comparison to other cities in Wisconsin, the Madison metro area had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at only 5.5 percent as of the end of July. The Janesville area was at 9.5 percent and metro Milwaukee at 8.2 percent for the same period.

The unemployment number is obviously not the complete story of an economic situation, but the significantly lower number suggests that Madison/Dane County have managed to remain a bit better off during the Great Recession than many other areas, including inside the rest of the state. As creating new jobs and reducing the unemployment rate becomes an increasing focus for Congress and President Obama, Madison’s success in avoiding the national levels of jobs lost is all that more significant.

What are your theories for why Madison has weathered the recession better than other cities?

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